Thursday, June 18, 2015

Think Before You Speak

plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say. (Luke 11:54 NASB)

After nearly 160 blog posts on Luke 11, I expected to begin Luke 12 today. It's probably no surprise that, as I was reading Luke 11 one more time this morning to be sure we had gathered all the good, I found one more little nugget.

I read this last verse and could hear my mama saying, "Young lady, you need to watch what you say," and "Not everything that comes in your head needs to come out your mouth." Exactly. It's a shame that she had to tell me that so many times, but she did. If you've spent much time with me, you may think I haven't improved much. The sad thing is that, as blunt and opinionated as I am, I'm less vocal than I used to be. I am, however, like you, still a work in progress.  

The scribes/lawyers and Pharisees knew that the easiest way to discredit someone was to take something they said out of context and expose them to public ridicule. Since Jesus spoke daily to crowds of people, he said many words. Already, the scribes and Pharisees were unhappy (to put it mildly) about the words He had just said to them. (Admittedly, I might not have been happy if Jesus had told me that I carried the stench of death in my actions, either.) When anger became action, the scribes and Pharisees' first scheme was to catch Him in something He said. They were sure that they could destroy Him with His own words. 

The Pharisees and scribes understood something that I seem to forget sometimes. My words have great power. I can bless with them and I can curse with them. (James 3) Since I have a choice about the words I use and the way I say them, I need to choose wisely. Do I "speak curses" against others? I'd like to say that I never do that, but if I say negative things about others that cause people to adopt my same negative attitude, I have, in a way, spoken a curse against them. I have harmed them with my words.

If I spread the latest tidbit of news about someone or share a secret best kept, I have harmed them with my words. James wrote that the same tongue that blessed God in worship should not be used to curse (or harm) others in public, and I need to remember that.

My grandmother used to say, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." I would do well to remember her words, and so would we all. The Pharisees were right. The quickest way to discredit a man or woman of God is to catch them saying something intemperate and use those words against them. Let's be sure we think before we speak, temper our words with kindness, and say only those words we would be happy for Jesus, who knows every word we speak, to hear.

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man's religion is worthless. (James 1:19-20, 26 NASB)