How it Begins…

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 26:20-21,

Without wood a fire goes out

Without gossip a quarrel dies down

As charcoal to embers and wood to fire

So is a quarrelsome man for kindling strife

Today’s blog post is by Hazel Campbell,

Who said she did that?  Not sure!

And so my friend that’s how it began. No one knew the source, but everyone heard the story and willingly passed it on. The investigation proved it wrong. Gossip, slander, backbiting, whispers and unfounded assumptions are the pitfalls against which the verses above are set to warn us. Whether in the church, or among our families, or in society, the effects of these words are the same DISCORD. The common saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never’ is just false. Gossips (words) have brought down empires, kings, rulers and even create contentious environments in churches.

A recent report revealed that 60% of all adult conversations is about someone not present!

The first known usage of the word ‘gossip’ is said to be before 1627 (Webster) and that it has gone in meaning from ‘godparent,’ ‘close friend’ to present day meaning ‘anyone, friend or not ,who shares the secret of others’  Why do we engage in such a destructive act? To gain friendships; add importance to ourselves; jealousy; for others to see us more pure or holy?

Or, is it that we are expressing a heart condition?

I invite you to join me, just for a moment, and walk in the shoes of someone who is being gossiped about. There is pain – dreadful pain. He or she feels hated, is discouraged, feels friendless, lonely, helpless.  He or she is swabbing wounds that are unseen to the eye. Is this a place for our neighbor to reside peacefully?

Tempted ever to gossip! Make the choice instead to recall Proverbs Ch. 17:9, “He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.”

 

 

Be Nice!

Today’s Scripture is from James 4:11-12 ,New International Version (NIV),
 
“Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Today’s blog post is by Peter Borsella,
 
As I’ve been summer stretching with the rest of you I’ve been more focused on doing things I normally wouldn’t do, but this verse is calling me to stretch myself and stop doing something I might already be doing.
 
Does James really have to state the obvious about not speaking evil of each other?  Yes, I suppose in the same way “do not murder” is obvious.  God knows my heart and knows I need to hear these instructions anyway, particularly since Jesus told us that if I have hatred in my heart I’m just as much a murderer as the one who acts on it (see Matt 5:21-22).
 
James is addressing us as brothers and sisters, which means he’s speaking to we who are already part of God’s family, connected together through Christ, all living with the same Holy Spirit inside of us.  And yet, like little children we have to be told by our Father not to bad-mouth each other and “be nice.”
 
Even more convicting is the idea that when we speak ill of each other we are not honoring Christ’s message of love and unity, and, we are taking God’s place in judging each other.  Our words have the power to help unite us together or divide us against each other.
 
Sometimes slandering is hiding under gossip about someone.  I do this.
Sometimes backbiting is hiding under complaints about someone.  I do this, way too much.
Sometimes bad-mouthing is hiding under anger when we’ve been wronged by another.  I do this, too.
 
As Christ’s body we are called this day to love each other in unity, not harm each other in judgement. 
Today, I will be nice.

Hypocrisy: Guilty Condemning the Guilty

Today’s Scripture is Matthew 7:1-5 (NCV),

Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.

Why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friend’s eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will see clearly to take the dust out of your friend’s eye.

Today’s blog post is by Rita Bewry…

To judge” means “to condemn.” An earthly judge is given authority to condemn (pronounce judgement on) after hearing evidence in support of or against an accused.

Judgement under God’s Law is not delegated to anyone. God gave the Law, and He alone is its enforcer, because only He is uniquely qualified to judge righteously. God is without sin; He knows the facts because He is all-seeing and all-knowing; He is impartial, and He cannot be bought. Why then, does anyone on earth presume to be qualified to judge on moral issues.  All humanity has rebelled against God’s laws, and have been declared guilty before God – the guilty condemning the guilty, is hypocrisy.

We are also known to be harsh judges of people for non-moral reasons, such as outward appearance, race, culture and personal choices. This kind of judgement relies on stereotypes and other dehumanizing standards that have nothing to do with the worth of an individual. God must be particularly miffed when people-groups, as well as individuals, rather than celebrating the shared humanity of all His creatures, choose instead to be separate from, indifferent to, and belittling of others. Do we not get that God is not a boring God? That diversity is His idea?  There is work to be done. Breaking down barriers between individuals and groups must be a function of the church that is achieving God’s purposes in the world.

Although we are commanded not to judge; Jesus did not forbid His followers from making objective judgements. We are called to be discerning in order to distinguish between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood. In fact, we are encouraged to correct someone who is in error: hence Gal. 6:1Brothers and sisters, if someone in your group does something wrong, you who are spiritual should go to that person and gently help make him right again.” Of course, Christ would nudge us to pray for the revelation of our own sin and for forgiveness, before undertaking such a mission.

 

Guard Your Heart and Mouth

Today’s Scripture is Proverbs 4:23-24

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.” 

Today’s blog post is by Pastor Vance…

At first glance, these two verses appear to be unrelated.  The first is about guarding the heart.  The second is about what comes out of your mouth.  Heart?  Mouth?  What’s the connection?

The key words are, “for everything you do flows from it.”  In essence, if you don’t guard your heart, nasty things may flow from your mouth.  Or, the nasty things that come out of your mouth come from an un-guarded heart.

Jesus echoes this in Matthew 15:16-19,

Jesus asked them. “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.  For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

Let me make this very plain.  When we eat something, it enters the mouth, then it passes through the body, and later exits elsewhere in a less desirable, stinky, revolting form.  But, according to Jesus, what comes out of the mouth can be equally revolting – lies, gossip, grumbling, insults, slander, etc.

Where do such nasty words originate?  According to Jesus and Proverbs 4:23-24, the words we speak originate in our hearts.

Elsewhere, the book of James says that the tongue is the most difficult of all human organs to maintain control of.

Think of it this way.  If it is in your heart, it will come out in words.  Thus, the words you speak are an accurate indicator of the condition of your heart.

If your heart is hurt, your words will be hurtful.  If your heart is full of envy and jealousy, your words will be resentful.  If your heart is full of judgement, your words will be condemning.  If your heart is prideful, your words will belittle.  If your heart is full of lust, your words will be perverse.

Here’s a suggestion – pay close attention to what you say today.  How frequently do you use obscenities?  How often do you gossip? How often are you critical?  How much do you grumble?  How many of your words are unkind?  How often are your demeaning to others?  How many opportunities do you miss to say something kind, encouraging, or affirming?

Where does that crap come from?  Your heart.  Why is it there?  Maybe it’s time to put a lot more of Jesus in your heart, and a lot less of the other stuff.  You’ll be amazed by the difference.

Silver Boxes

Today’s Scripture is Ephesians 4:29-30 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Today’s blog post is by Annje Hutchinson, Administrative Assistant…

I grew up in a household where unwholesome talk was the norm, but somehow I knew if I said any one of those words or phrases I would get my mouth washed out with soap. (That did happen on occasion.) However, I remember more vividly the unkind words spoken to me by my family. The kind of words that cut you to your core. The words you can never forget. The ones that make you feel insignificant, unwanted, and unworthy.

Later, in my teen years, my mom read a book called “Silver Boxes: The Encouragement Gift,” by Florence Littauer. She gave me an empty box wrapped in pretty silver paper with a poem called “Silver Boxes,” by Michael Bright attached to it. The teenager that I was, wasn’t having it. An empty box was no apology for all the hurtful things she had said to me growing up. Years later I realized that was the only way she knew how to apologize. I now wish I still had that silver box. Thanks to Google I can find the poem:

“My words were harsh and hasty

And they came without a thought.

Then I saw the pain and anguish

That my bitter words had brought.

Bitter words that I had spoken

Made me think back through the past;

Of how many times I’d uttered

Biting words whose pain would last.

Then I wondered people

I had hurt by things I’d said;

All the ones I had discouraged

When I didn’t use my head.

Then I thought about my own life.

Of painful words I’ve heard;

And of the times I’d been discouraged

By a sharp and cruel word.

And now clearly I remember

All the things I might have done;

But, by a word I was discouraged

And they never were begun.

Lord, help my words be silver boxes.

Neatly wrapped up with a bow;

That I give to all so freely,

As through each day I gladly go.

Silver boxes fill of treasure,

Precious gifts from God above;

That all the people I encounter

Might have a box of God’s own love.”

Michael Bright

Today I THINK before I speak:

T – is it True?

H – is it Helpful?

I – is it Inspiring?

N – is it Necessary?

K – is it Kind?

Let us all remember Ephesians 4:29-30 and use our words to build others up in God’s amazing grace and love. #welovefirst
 

 

Taming the Tongue

Today’s blog post is by Chris Linderman, Director of Youth Ministry…

When I was in high school, I was the captain of the drumline at my highschool! I took a lot of pride in this role – but, a little too much pride.

One day during our summer rehearsal, I got frustrated with a few people in our section and I tore into them with my words—words that shall not be repeated. After rehearsal that day, I took a student home. We didn’t know each other that well, but he started to talk to me about Christ. He began to tell me about his relationship with Christ. It actually felt like he was sharing the Gospel with me. I had to stop him and tell him, “Hey, I am a Christian—we are a part of the same family!” His response was unforgettable. He said “Oh, I couldn’t tell that by how you were speaking to everyone.”

At that point, I realized that how I speak to others actually matters. People are watching and listening to everything I say and do. Proverbs 18:24 says that “The tongue has power of life and death.” Our words can either build others up or can tear others down. Our words have power! We can bring a breath of life and hope to those that around us or we can bring hurt, death, and pain to others simply by our words.

James, in chapter 3, is talking about taming the tongue. It says in verse 8, “No human being can tame the tongue.” So how do we use our words to praise God one day through song and worship; and with the same mouth, use our words to hurt, gossip, and tear down those that He calls His children?

I promise, I get it; it is not easy to tame the tongue. It is not easy to not gossip. I also understand that the words that come from our lips, whether good or bad, are a reflection of what is going on in our hearts (Matt. 15:18). So here are some questions to think about:

  • What is the condition of my heart?
  • Who is influencing my life right now and how are they influencing me?
  • Who do I need to forgive?
  • How am I building others up with my words? (Eph. 4:29)

To continue this devotion, please read and meditate on Psalms 141.