Sunday, July 29, 2007

Sunday Devotional: Taming the Tongue

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”—Proverbs 15:28

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to the wicked person. Apart from Christ, my sharp tongue can shoot darts into the hearts of those I love. And on more than one occasion I have had to go back and ask forgiveness for an ill word spoken in anger or haste. Most of the time I find myself quickly saying the first thing that comes to mind instead of praying about, or even thinking about, the implications of my words.

Notice first how the verse says “the heart of the righteous ponders how to answer.” The taming of the tongue cannot be a result of exerted will power. Every time I vow to never speak impulsively again, I find myself sorely disappointed by my own lack of ability to refrain. A thoughtful answer is the overflow of a righteous heart, and not righteousness from ability, but righteousness from the truly Righteous One—King Jesus. Even if we were able to answer kindly, apart from Christ, that kindness will eventually turn to pride in our ability.

So much of our frustrations with our own sinfulness stem from our continual attempts at “doing better next time,” instead of trusting in the fact that a Jewish carpenter did it perfectly 2,000 years ago and intercedes for us before the Father. This news, this amazing truth, is what keeps us from wickedness. The heart of the righteous man recognizes that he will never graduate from the Gospel and move on to something else. The minute we think that we are ready for something other than the Gospel it reveals that we have lost the wonder of what saves us.

We are always given a choice. We can choose righteousness or we can choose wickedness. But those of us who have had the scales fall off of our eyes, see that righteousness leads to life. A wicked answer may seem harmless in the beginning, but in the end it leads to spiritual death—separation from God. We obey because we love Him, and know that He is far better than any second long high from lashing out at another person.

The Bible is full of references to taming the tongue, which should tell us something. God cares about our words. He cares about our answers. How we respond to people says everything about our belief in the Gospel. With every word that pours out of our mouths we are either saying that Christ is enough or that Christ is worthless. Let us pray for a new heart, dear Christian, so the world may see only Jesus and not be clouded by our own sinful reactions. May this Lord’s Day be a great and glorious reminder of the sweet mercy of God for us on Calvary.


stephanie said...

Thank you for posting this, Courtney! I needed to hear this!

debt said...

What a wonderful blog, Courtney. I so enjoyed talking with you on Saturday about this. I, too, have had to ask forgiveness of others for speaking before I think. It is grieving to know that that I can still hurt others after all these years with an untimely or unkind word, but as Paul says in Romans 7, "Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin." All too often, for me, I get in trouble, not with the content of what I'm saying but how I'm saying it. It is still a struggle, but I see growth., The warring of our flesh against the Spirit will continue until the day we die, but our God is faithful who will complete the work He began in us. Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful! How rich, how humbling! Two of my favorite verses are Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer." and Proverbs 25:11,"Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word timely spoken." I'll pray for you and you pray for me that our tongues would bring honor to God and not shame, kindness and healing to others and not sharpness and wounds. I love you lots!!!

cdt said...

Your welcome, Steph. I need to hear it too! So, desperately.

Thank you for your comment, Momma. It is a good word! I love you, too.