"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lent Day 16 - Thursday, March 24

“But, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

When I was an eighth grader, I got mad and told our preacher’s daughter to go to hell. Yeah, bad choice. But, she made me mad and I wanted to really, really hurt her, so I thought I would condemn her to eternal torment. And, for that moment, I wanted that. Plus, I was an eighth grade guy and that sounded so cool. However, with the sight of her face scrunching up and the tears starting to flow, my feeling of superiority dwindled. I began to hurt for her and feel really sorry for what I had said. Now, folks, bear in mind….this was, like, 1966 and that phrase was not as widely used as it is now. I have no idea where I even learned it, but it sure came flying out of my mouth easily.

That day, a Sunday (I actually said that on a Sunday? And to a preacher’s daughter?), I began a lifelong struggle with controlling my tongue and my determination to always have the last word even if it was harmful to someone else.

As far back as I can remember as a child, it seems I always had a bar of soap in my mouth for talking back to my mom and/or accompanying it with a slobbery raspberry…Bronx cheer….you know. Again, bad choices. Real bad. My grade reports from elementary school always had unsatisfactory grades in behavior…because I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.

Now I have a laptop computer and access to the whole world via the internet to get last words. I’m sorry to say that I have used that medium to do that once or twice and have immediately felt worse than the condemnation of the preacher’s girl. I could delete the post, but the harm was done. Thanks be to God that as I have grown physically and spiritually, I have also learned to man up and say, “I’m sorry.” And mean it. My prayer has also been that I not do harm by anything I say or write, but that God be glorified and I think (with His help), I am winning that battle. This is biggest problem I deal with as far as my tongue goes. Thank goodness, I’ve never been inclined to gossip a lot. (Note that I said a lot. That doesn’t mean at all.)

Now, enough of me…how about you? How’s your tongue doing? Do you have a smart mouth? Do you hurt people with your words when you lash out in anger? Is your language inappropriate (and inappropriate language can be more than just profanity)? Pleasing to God? Do you gossip about people? Are you friends as long as you are together, then talk about them as soon as they walk off?

The scriptures talk in several places about the danger of an untamed tongue. I’ve seen how much harm can come from one word spoken in an emotion other than Love (as in, God’s Love). I continue to struggle with that tiny little slimy, gooey thing in my mouth and it is harder to control than anything I’ve battled in my life. How about you? Is it a battle, or do you just let the words fly?

Spend today honestly thinking about your words, spoken or written. Do they build someone up or tear someone down? Do they build God up or tear Him down. Ultimately, it will build your witness up or tear it down.

Blessed be the name of the LORD!


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