Posts Tagged ‘tongue’

Good Wounds

November 27th, 2012

The wounds of a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.

Proverbs 27:6

We may trust Christ in all circumstances. Beyond Him, every other human being is subject to moral weakness and is unreliable. David even went so far as to write, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psa. 27:10), and though none of us want to imagine that our very parents could turn their back on us or their face against us, we would have to admit that stranger things have happened in life. Our Light and our Salvation is the Lord, and no other!

Yet God does give us friends on earth and this proverb teaches a very important point about the nature of friendship: flattery is not its true test. True friends can be honest with each other and even if their words are wounding, the intention is good. If they are spoken in love and with insight they should be heeded.

The Lord uses people in our lives, and He uses us in the lives of others. Haddon Robinson in his book Biblical Preaching, made the observation of the importance of the preacher himself in the sermon. We pray sincerely, “Hide my pastor behind the cross!” and certainly it is our goal in preaching for people to see Jesus and not us. Yet Robinson accurately points out the limitations of such a prayer, that the preacher becomes part of his message and the message will be processed through his own psyche and experience and faith.

But this also says something about every believer. Our words are never more profound than God’s. Our opinions are never equal to God’s opinion. But if we walk with Him in knowledge of His Word and in fellowship with His Spirit and His people, God does give us insight and graceful advice to share with others. A judgmental and critical spirit seeks to put others down, and lift up ourselves, and normally can be spotted by others. A quarrelsome, critical, negative, and prideful spirit is not of God (Matt. 7:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; James 3:13-16).

But genuine love does have a confrontational element to it, that we say graciously what the other needs to hear. By “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is. Christ” (Eph. 4:15). Not setting ourselves above the other, and approaching the matter in utter humility of heart (Gal 6:1-6). If God has put a brother or a sister on your heart, pray first for them, and then if God gives you the opportunity to share a word of wisdom, do it graciously, humbly, and in love, watching yourself that you are not tempted.

This also applies to others who speak to us. We are not called to stand on our own. We need the help and encouragement, as well as the insight and advice, from others around us. We are not just the composite of our past; our very present also influences our effectiveness. A believer in Christ should open his heart to hear from his friends in Christ, to listen to wisdom and their guidance.

The ultimate test is always the Word of God, but others have a place in helping us to understand how to apply it to our lives.

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Controlling Our Tongues

August 29th, 2012

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back… Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

Proverbs 29:11, 20

The purpose of Proverbs is to teach us how to live a wise and moral life in a fallen world. There are dangers on both sides of any path we take, and dangers from within our own hearts as well. And we must know how to live wisely and prudently. It is a miracle of God’s grace and a sign of His knowledge that regardless of how fallen this world becomes, God still has advice for us on how to live.

We would be tempted to think the opposite, that the world is so fallen that only a devil really knows how to live here. But God insists on the opposite, that those who walk in the Spirit will know more about how to navigate the seas of moral failure than the most experienced in the world’s ways, and He will teach us to do it with grace and compassion, offering hope to the fallen and salvation for those who are convicted of sin and convinced that Christ is the answer. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” rather delights in the law of the Lord (Psalm 1:1-2).

God’s advice is for us to be aware that our emotions may rage within, and that there will be moments when we must hold back our words. A wise person will be careful with what he says, aware that the simplest phrase uttered in anger or out of hurt may result in more anger and hurt. Fear also, another strong emotion, can provoke more fear. We have often been told that we need to let it out, not hold it in, that we need to express our feelings rather than bottle them up, for otherwise they may explode one day and do more damage. There may be an element of truth in this perspective, but there are better ways of self expression than to lambast those around us with rage and fear.

Prayer is given for a means of expression of our fears and emotions to God. The Christian fellowship is also a means by which we can share life with others. Our pride prevents us from being honest with our brothers and sisters, and we do bottle up our emotions needlessly. Humility, honesty, winsome graciousness, the ability to laugh at ourselves, and especially faith in the goodness and grace of God (confidence), along with a desire for righteousness – these traits help us to find people with whom we can share our lives.

It is possible that someone may be very knowledgeable, may know the best answers in difficult circumstances, and may be steeped in experience and practical wisdom, yet if he is unable to bridle his tongue, if he is unable to know when to speak and when to be silent, all of this knowledge may never be appropriately appreciated. “Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love I am like a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1). People do not normally care how much we know, until they know how much we care.

The wisest among us has learned to settle his deepest fears and emotions in prayer and in the confidential community with fellow Christians. When we cannot pray through a matter, we should have the humility to go to our trusted Christian friend and talk through the issue and pray together about the matter. The truly disciplined believer is also a very humble person, and it is the humble people the Lord loves to exalt.

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