Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Careless With Speech

Nothing in-depth today -just something on my heart. I have been thinking lately about how careless I am about my speech. I think "careless" describes it well. I neglect, do not give concern or care toward, the weight of the words that come out of my mouth. I fly off my mouth in various directions without giving it much thought -so, not just careless, but thoughtless also. Some might say, "Oh, you are being too hard on yourself." I don't think I am. I will not say anything for those who say such things. They stand or fall before their Master as well. I am saying that for me this has become a sore issue. It exposes a lot of heart issues -since it is out of the heart that the abundance of the mouth flows.

A few passages come to mind:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matt 5:13-14)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Eph 5:1-4)

But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? (James 3:8-11)

It is quite a thing to be salt and light - a glorious metaphor used by our Lord. I am so far from them both. I noticed that one of the biggest ways in which we can be salt and light, or on the other hand make ourselves not be, is with our words. Our words really do make or break us. Our actions do, too, but our words flow constantly, even when no action can be observed. It has been said, "actions speak louder than words," and that is true when it comes to things like love or making claims about oneself. That is more about having our actions and our words agree. Our words, our speech, they can in one instant separate us from the world and give honor to Christ or altogether bring reproach upon ourselves and shame Christ's name. Even last night playing a game, my humor, my words followed so quickly down the path of those who do not know the Lord and even reject Him. It followed, and sometimes even led by a few steps, into things that border on vulgar or inappropriate, graceless, unprofitable, brash, even if my company laughed with me.

And many times our company will laugh. It is not always that our company is offended for us to shame Christ or blow an opportunity to distinguish ourselves as salt and light. I long to be one who speaks when it is right to speak and who is silent when it is right to remain silent. I long to be one who graces the conversation with humility and with a godly word. I long to be one who can have a laugh like the best of them but still carefully restrain himself from sliding down the slippery slope into things that are not befitting of the name of Christ nor His servants. I long to be one who, in speech especially, is distinct from the world -not caught up in foolish controversies, not easily swayed into wasting my words on profitless discussions or gossip, not slipping into coarse or obscene humor, not engaging in biting sarcasm or attacks.

Two pictures come to mind. They are not directly derived from these texts, but I think they have to do with the main concepts of Scripture. First, imagine if your words were limited. You only had a single bag of salt. Would you waste this bag of salt foolishly, or would you scatter it wisely where it is needed, not in excess, but just the right amount? Second, imagine that your tongue is not your own. In a true sense, it isn't. But imagine that at the end of each day you must physically remove it and return it to your Master -as if you are just borrowing it for the day. If we are ashamed to return something borrowed, say a car or fine instrument, to its owner after having scuffed it or used it foolishly, how much more shall we be ashamed and consider more carefully how we use our tongue, which must be returned personally to our Master at the end of each day?

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