Tuesday, May 20, 2008

avoiding the strife of tongues

James 3 makes it clear to us that our tongues are dangerous (as do the Proverbs), a world of restless evil. We live in a society that seem to promote this restless evil in what I might call the strife of the tongue. Talk radio subtly and not subtly attacks the character of other people, namely politicians. Even Christians feed on that and then do the same, and not just against politicians but against others as well. It is said almost in the name of the Lord. That's the intent most of the time. But it doesn't justify it.

I avoid it by refusing to participate in it. It becomes difficult when the one doing it seems given over to that kind of talk to some degree. I may not be in a good position or place to confront them on that, but I can certainly pray. And live out something different before them.

Where I can lose out on this is both in my thought life and at home when I'm sharing it with my wife, Deb. I can descend to the same level and fight fire with fire, rather than live as the light in the Lord which in Jesus we are. This is when I need to press the mute button on my mouth. And when or if I do speak, keep it to a minimum. And make sure I'm praying first with whatever thoughts which may follow. Praying always through that.

It's hardest when the tongues are aimed at us- though we know when at us it is aimed at others as well. We must avoid descending to the same level either in our words or in our heart. And we must avoid harboring evil in our hearts against the perceived and real evil of others. That evil we have stored will come out, even if it comes out more in what we don't do, rather than do.

I think the best thing we do to overcome the strife or evil of tongues is to overcome that evil with good. This may include gently correcting someone as we seek to live by the Spirit.

What do you do to overcome the strife of tongues? Or what might you like to add here?

tomorrow: chapter 3"Tossed Treasure - messiness", from L.L. Barkat's book, Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places.

16 comments:

Kim said...

Where can I get one of those mute buttons??? :-D Seriously, we were just discussing this in 12-step study last night. Doing our personal inventories has brought so many negative thoughts and behaviors to light. Praise God that He is a God of grace, mercy and second chances.

Rachel Mc said...

I have to say watching what I say and to who I say something has been one of the most difficult lessons I have had to learn. Total honesty isn't always the most appropriate response to someone. Fortunately, I was taught it is ok to be that real and honest with God, God is the only one I don't hesitate to tell anything too.

Rachel Mc said...

To clarify my comment, when I said "total honesty", I meant that I had to learn not to be so blunt and to realize not everyone can handle the harsh truth, I needed to learn tact! This was (is) difficult for me because I tend to speak first and think later.

preacherman said...

Great post brother!
One of the problems I have is saying things without thinking first. I am try to control my tongue by thinking before I speak. I wish there were words I could take back. Word that have torn down rather than build up. Words used for revenge or to get evn. Words and the tongue are so powerful.
Keep up the great posts brother.
Thank you for challenging me to watch out and control my tongue.
God bless you brother and may you have a wonderful day!

L.L. Barkat said...

As a person of words, this is probably one of my greatest areas of struggle! Like Kim, I want one of those mute buttons. :)

NaNcY said...

i went to read James 3, and read on through verse 18.

what strikes me most are the words about wisdom and understanding, and showing this by doing things with the humility that comes from wisdom. "humility" just stuck right out there as being a main point.

and then where it describes the wisdom that comes from Heaven...being... first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

and ending with the peace loving again....Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

imagine that...a harvest of righteousness.

i also see the part about...

if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts ,do not boast about it or deny the truth....

because it is not wisdom from Heaven and must not be kept.


maybe i could invent a lolly pop that hangs on a necklace...and when we need to mute we can just stick it in our mouth...it could be made in the shape of a foot.

James 3:
13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kim,
Yes. I think I've grown alot over the years in this area, but still have to be careful and sometimes I do pray the Lord will put a watch over my tongue.

Important in this to try to guard or watch over my heart with all diligence as Proverbs tells us.

But you're so right. When we do blow it, it's great to know that God is the God of second and third, etc., chances. A God of grace to forgive and help us grow.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Rachel,
Yes. I've done my share of that as well, to speak my mind when I would have been better off to pray more about it. And pray alot before setting up a time to listen to the person.

But it's so true that we're to cast all on God and that is important as an expression of faith. To pray as our heart moves us even when moved in a questionable direction, and in that God can change our heart as we keep sincerely praying to God and seeking to do so in his will.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kinney,
Yes, I remember the proverb that says that a brother offended is harder to win back than a fortified city. Yet in Jesus that can happen over time.

But so true. I wish there were words I could take back as well. Though I don't regret every negative word I've said, because sometimes there's a time to rebuke. Yet hard to know when. And always must be done in love, preferably with a tear in one's eye so to speak and never out of anger.

Of course you know this and much more! Just stating my take on it.

Thanks!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, L.L. From my perspective I know what you mean. I too am a person of words and James 3 at its opening is straightforward about the fact that those we all err in many ways including our tongues. And the proverb that in much speaking is sin (a maxim).

So yes. I need to push that mute button and am better at doing it than I used to be!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Nancy.

I like the lolly pop idea. Would taste good as I don't speak my mind, but turn into a foot when I do(?). ha.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy,
And I agree. The end of chapter 3 and living out the truth is so important in avoding the strife of tongues.

Kim said...

Nancy - how 'bout a pair of chocolate shoes instead? ;-)

You know Ted, something jumped out in your response to rachel, you said "To pray as our heart moves us even when moved in a questionable direction, and in that God can change our heart"

I know I forget at times that it's not up to me to first change my heart before I approach God. Duh. Only He is capable of changing my heart. And Praise Him for that!

L.L. Barkat said...

I'm reading "Water from a Deep Well." One of the ancient Christians I read about did this to control his tongue: keep a stone in his mouth! Okay. Not quite a lollipop. But apparently it had its merits. :)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Kim,
So true. I think my thought is with reference to the psalmist's prayers, though when you study them you're a bit hard pressed to make their prayers necessarily sinful, I think. But the point is that they're praying their heart, and we must do the same, with an openness to God always for his correction in the spirit of "Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139)

Thanks, Kim.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L.,
Yes. Some measures like that may be good as long as one is seeking God in faith and prayer for a heart change. Of course I know you realize that. Sometimes I wonder about some of the extreme stuff I read of Christians in early centuries in battling sin. But I think measures like that and certain actions or sacrifices can be expressions of faith even led by God at certain times.