Could it be true that our lips and our lives often preach a mixed message? In Matthew 23:3, it says, “Do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” My Bible New Century Version reads “So you should obey and follow whatever they tell you, but their lives are not good examples for you to follow. They tell you to do things, but they themselves don’t do them.”
Jesus is talking about the Pharisees, the teachers of his day, so… how can that pertain to me? We are ambassadors of Christ. Once we are saved, we are called to go tell the world the Good News of Jesus. Jesus isn’t here on earth in the flesh anymore…we must be Jesus to the world. How can we do that if we do not watch what we say to or about other people? As Christians, we are under scrutiny by others, especially non-Christians…just waiting for us to act like a hypocrite.
In his book, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, author Max Lucado writes: “No doubt you’ve had your share of words that wound. You’ve felt the sting of a well-aimed dig. Maybe you’re still feeling it. Someone you love or respect slams you to the floor with a slur or slip of the tongue. And there you lie, wounded and bleeding. Perhaps the words were intended to hurt you, perhaps not, but that doesn’t matter. The wound is deep. The injuries are internal. Broken heart, wounded pride, bruised feelings. Or maybe your wound is old…The old pain flares unpredictably and decisively, reminding you of harsh words yet unforgiven”.
Most of us try to live in a way that is pleasing to God, right? We’re honest, kind and compassionate toward others.
Sometimes, it takes a little self-control and discipline to do what we should and to keep from doing what we shouldn’t, and usually we are successful.
But what about controlling our tongue? I know we don’t intentionally set out to hurt someone, but have you ever said something negative about someone to a friend. You may have called it venting. How about that driver that just cut you off. Shouldn’t they give their license back if they can’t drive? That really slow store clerk that is talking instead of ringing up orders…you complained about her all the way home. Your kids sitting in the back seat heard you. Someone asks you for advice and you make a judgment call on her life and instead of answering in Christ’s love, you are too harsh and turn her away. The list goes on.
If you are not building up another with your words…you are tearing them down. In James 3:7-9, it says, “People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, but no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil and full of deadly poison. We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself.”
Sometimes we have to literally bite our tongues to keep from saying something we might regret. Our words are the most powerful weapons we have. They can be used for either good or evil. We can tear a person down and hurt them deeply or we can brighten someone’s spirit greatly and encourage them. You can use your words to build someone up or tear them down.
You have that choice, given to you by God as free will. We live in a fallen world, in which we daily come into contact with sin and other things that can discourage our “faith walk.” Many people come to church looking for an encouraging word…perhaps the only one they have heard all week. They have been torn down and now need to be rebuilt, through the love of Jesus shining through us. They don’t need to hear people gossiping, complaining about what they don’t like at church, or only complain about life and do not share joy with their words.
We don’t know where a person has been or what has happened to them that day or during that week, one discouraging word may seem harmless to you, but it may be detrimental to that sister who has had a week full of discouragement. Don’t under estimate the power of an encouraging word. Because of your encouraging words, that person may be spurred on to do great things for the Lord. In Hebrews 10:24, ”Let us spur each other on toward love and good deeds”
Here is a little bit more from Max Lucado from “No Wonder They Call Him the Savior,
Max: “So, if you have suffered or are suffering because of someone’s harsh words, you’ll be glad to know there is a balm for this laceration…”
There is a way for us to overcome our human nature to lash back with harsh words. How can we do that… by imitating our perfect example, Jesus. Jesus was ridiculed, laughed at and beaten, yet He never spoke back with harsh words. He always chose His words carefully.
Max: “Did you see what Jesus did not do? He did not retaliate. He did not bite back. He did not say, “I’ll get you!”…He left the judging to God. He did not take on the task of seeking revenge. He demanded no apology. He hired no bounty hunter and sent out no posse…If ever a person deserved a shot at revenge, Jesus did. But he didn’t take it. Instead he died for them. How could he do it? I don’t know. But I do know that all of a sudden my wounds seem very painless. My grudges and hard feelings are suddenly childish.”
I encourage you to read in it’s entirety, Max Lucado’s book, No Wonder They Call Him the Savior. I read it many years ago for the first time and I actually red it at least once ayear and i always find something new…I have found him to be a favorite Christian author of mine…very easy to read and understand. He gives great insight into Jesus, both as our Savior and our perfect example to live by. It will change your life.
Thank you, Lord for this lesson. Help us to allow you to tame our tongues. May our words be honoring to you. Amen
References: God’s Holy Word NIV & NCV No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, author Max Lucado
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