10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?
12 Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring. (James 3:10-12)
Early this morning I was watching the news and it was a segment on last night’s Emmy Awards. Instead of acknowledging the talent and skills of actors, it was a political tirade against the current administration right from the beginning. And I must confess before you (as I already have to God) that I wanted to break out into my own tirade about and against those Hollywood Elitists. Who do they think they are, living in those excessively opulent mansions anyway? And just when I was getting started with my own tirade (and it was going to be good, I promise!), the Holy Spirit whispered something, but I couldn’t quite make it out. It was a whisper after all.
So I stopped and said “Huh? What did you say?” Now I was focused and I’m sure God smiled at that point. And I must admit to you (I already have to God) that I had to repent of those thoughts and words, and it was all because of what The Holy Spirit whispered into my mind and heart. Oh, you want to know what The Spirit whispered into my mind and heart? Are you sure? Well, Okey Dokey, here it is: “But Randy, what about the words that are being said every day by those folks who are supposed to represent Jesus? What about your words? Are those words right? Fair? True? Compassionate? Encouraging? I’m not talking about those ‘Sunday morning’ words. But the words spoken on the other days of the week. Have you listened to them? Are you listening to your own words? Think about it and get back to me.” Sigh…heavy sigh on my part.
So, rather than rant against those Hollywood Elitists, I want to probe into the minds and hearts of those who profess to follow Jesus. I began thinking about all the words I have heard spoken by the Sunday Morning Saints. Now, I believe there are followers and churches who are seriously committed and dedicated to the work of the Kingdom of God and they are doing wonderful things for Jesus. But some things are, well, have you listened to yourself lately, Church?
You criticize every thing wrong in the culture, and trust me, I know there is a lot wrong. Your words are bitter and filled with the (un)spiritual gift of tearing people down. For example, I hear the word “abomination” being used at the LBGT community and they quickly quote Leviticus 20:13, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” But what about Deuteronomy 17:1, “And don’t sacrifice to God, your God, an ox or sheep that is defective or has anything at all wrong with it. That’s an abomination, an insult to God, your God.” OK, so we don’t offer animal sacrifices anymore, BUT the meaning is very clear: “If you don’t offer God the FIRST and VERY BEST of YOUR life, then YOU are an abomination! The truth is, ALL acts of sin are an abomination, not just your neighbors sins.
We are also quick to criticize our church leaders; what they are doing and not doing. But what about you? What are YOU doing to bring the Kingdom of God, that Kingdom of Grace, Mercy, Love and Truth, into the world? Do you ever pray the Lord’s Prayer? What about that line, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”? You’re on earth, so are YOU doing His will as it is done in Heaven? Or are you just picking and choosing which parts you like and fit into your personal agenda? Or are you picking up your cross every day and dying to the world, a living sacrifice to show the world God’s outlandish love and how that love transforms every life through your transformed life?
Have you listened to yourself lately? Are your words Ephesians 4:29 words? It goes like this from God’s Word Translation: “Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you.“ Not much that was said at the Emmy Awards show could be classified as Ephesians 4:29 words. But that’s not what matters. If you say you are a follower of Jesus (i.e. a “Christian”), do your words build up and offer hope? Do your words make your community better, or just plain bitter? Do your words on Monday through Saturday match up with your words on Sunday morning? Only you can answer that question, so go ahead, answer the question. I have this, call it hunch, that The Holy Spirit may be whispering to someone else right now, “What about your words? Are those words right? Fair? True? Compassionate? Encouraging? I’m not talking about those ‘Sunday morning’ words. But the words spoken on the other days of the week. Have you listened to them? Are you listening to your own words? Think about it and get back to me.”
When our Sunday words are reflected in our Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday words, then we can say, “Good! Lord it’s Monday! What shall we do together?” Let’s pray:
Lord, help me today, every day and all day long to listen to my words more than the words of others. Forgive me when my Monday through Saturday words sound so very different from my Sunday words. Help me speak Ephesians 4:29 words. Amen and Amen!