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

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shut UP! (oops)

Even if you know my family, you still can’t fully understand the quirky, odd way we sometimes roll. We didn’t just play the ‘Name the State license plates game’ while traveling, it was part of our required answer to give the capital, state bird, flower and (for extra credit) the state slogan. As some of you know, my family’s recently submitted a paper plate festooned with bitten off pretzels forming letters to say “We love pretzels” to ABC’s Good Morning America for their Saturday morning ‘Week in Three Words’ segment. Yes, it aired and I currently have the original We Love Pretzels plate available on eBay. So, it isn’t totally unusual that we began a new challenge this past weekend. However, it is a bit more serious and challenging. It involves three scriptures that tell us as a family (and we as a culture) how to live…in the gospel according to Jimmy. Please read the verses below as you follow along.

One is James 4:11 and the key words are “bad mouth” (MSG), “speak against one another” (NASB), speak evil about or accuse another (AMP), “say cruel things” (CEV) and “slander” (NIV). Our challenge is how long can we go without speaking any word of criticism toward another?

The next verse is found in Romans 12:1 and the key phrases include “don’t jump all over them when they say or do something you don’t agree with” (MSG), “don’t criticize his opinions or pass judgment…or perplex him with discussion” (AMP) and “or judge his disputable manner” (NIV). What can we do to keep our home/job/city/county/country a place of no harshness?

Finally, Romans 14:19 contains “use all of our energy” (MSG), “definitely aim for” (AMP) and “make every effort” (NIV). Can we determine to build up and not to tear down?

Basically, this week was declared a “No Harshness” zone in the Cochran household. We are trying to not criticize, argue or tear down others (politicians included) and a special effort is being made to adhere to the rules. So far…not so great. I am learning to just not speak and stay away from everyone else. Mom is just trying to be nice and use a kind tone when she gets a bit harsh as if we won’t notice. As for David, well, he just growls at us both and says this is stupid. Such is my world. But, in all seriousness, I can begin to tell a difference as we do the best we can. I have learned to think two or three times before I might say something about another person or situation. Not only do the words not come out, but I am finding myself a little less stressed and angry. More on the plus side of my life simplification project.

Think how this would project could impact everyone around us and, in turn, our world. No rampant criticism of others; family, friends, neighbors and politicians. No arguing with others which often leads to anger, potential harm to relationships and to sinful behavior. And can we be encouragers instead of destroyers…or just learn to keep our mouths shut? It all goes back to what we heard as children, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

As my family continues this interesting project in our lives this week, let me encourage you to read the above verses and see how you can seriously apply them to your lives. Please, don’t just read all this and not seriously consider it. We can make a difference….if we just take it in small steps….tiny baby steps.

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy.


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