May 7 – Me & My Big Mouth – James 1

Read James 1:26

I’ve not always been able to bridle my tongue. There was a time in my life where my mental filter was nonexistent. I am a deeply emotional person and that showed in my teen years. I am very much an open book and, when that seal was even slightly opened in the past, all would come spewing out. Something else that I’m not too fond of is my short fuse. With my non-existent filter in the past, I hurt a lot of people. I was such an angry person that, when I was set off, it was scorched earth. While I would comically call it “verbal jousting,” I would often cross lines and make people feel bad about themselves. I was under the opinion that, if someone said or did something that I didn’t agree with, they needed to know that I thought they were wrong and needed to change. Something my dad told me, which took a while to stick, was that, just because something can be said, doesn’t mean that it should.

I think that this is all too common in our world today and even in the church. Many people struggle with a mental filter and a way-too-eager tongue to the point that their language could be described as “unbridled”. Take the time to scroll through Facebook and you will often see less than filtered opinions and “verbal jousts”. Even if it’s a struggle, as followers of Christ, our tongue should be bridled or tamed. We should be building people up rather than tearing them down.

The first chapter of James (verse 26) even goes so far as to say that, if you consider yourself to be religious but can’t keep control of your tongue, you are only deceiving yourself and your “religion” is worthless. If you claim to be a “Christian” or to follow Christ but can’t control your words, the “religion” that you claim for yourself has no worth.

That’s a tough pill to swallow.

There are many people who I know that claim to follow Christ but can’t seem to control their tongue. Most of these people know better but, for some reason, think that it’s okay to say whatever they want whenever they want. What example are they giving to non-believers? What example are they giving to believers who hear the words that they say?

While none of us is perfect, we should all strive to control our tongue. What are some steps that you can take to better control what you say? Maybe your next step was similar to mine; maybe you need to begin to put a mental filter in place. There have been many a time where my filter has kicked in and I feel so much better that, not only did I honor God by not saying anything, but I didn’t hurt the person who I deemed “in the wrong”.

As believers, our words should be filled with grace but seasoned with salt. Just because something can be said doesn’t mean it should.

Will you commit to honor the Lord through your words today?

Jake Lawson

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May 6 – Me & My Big Mouth – Ephesians 4

Read Ephesians 4:25-32

One of the first Disney movies I remember watching was Bambi. Bambi’s friend is  Thumper, a bunny, who loves to do what feels good in the moment. He eats the blossoms off the clover in the fields and leaves the “healthy” green leaves and stem. Thumper also has trouble with his words and repeats, with embarrassment, what he learned the hard way. “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all!”

Sometimes we do need to say something, so let’s be reminded what the inspired Word of God directs to do, so we can walk in truth. When we have sticky relational problems and blurt out the “obvious” and ignore the healthy steps outlined in this passage, it gets messy and ugly.

Ephesians 4-6 are great chapters to model in our church and family lives. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 4:29 to 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.”

First, I need to listen to truth from these passages and apply them.

  1. Put off the old self and be made new in the attitude of our minds. (Eph. 4: 22-24)
  2. In our anger, do not sin and give the devil a foothold. (Eph. 4:26-27)
  3. Be kind and compassionate just as Christ has been with us. (Eph. 4:32-5:2)

Secondly, I need to be careful in my relationships. In my mind I can process what a “helpful and beneficial” conversation should look like.  It is clear what my intent is. The listener will understand my intent and follow the obvious plan laid out so that there is a peaceful and productive result in their life.  The problem is that there are so many more variables! It can take a lot of time and energy to work through the process of knowing what the need is and how to build the person up.  Patience and wisdom are needed, and those come from the Holy Spirit who works powerfully in and through us, when we let Him.

Praying for my interactions with others, waiting on the Spirit’s timing and following these principles in scripture can help me to keep “my big mouth” in check.

Let’s keep in step with the Spirit today!

Celeste Kern

 

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May 5 – Me & My Big Mouth – Proverbs 18

Read Proverbs 18:21

“We shall only talk of peace when we have won the war. The Jewish capitalist world will not survive the twentieth century.” With words such as this, Adolf Hitler launched the world into its second full scale war. Around six years later, an estimated 56 million people around the world were dead.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue…”

Throughout this series, we have been talking about how our words have power. Maybe you have experienced it from a receiving or sending standpoint. However, do you believe it? Do you know just how much power your words have? Hitler literally catapulted the world into war, yes through his actions, but also through the words that he said. Over the years, rivalries have been started, friendships have been ruined and families have been torn apart over words spoken.

We are halfway through this series and I wanted to take the time to refocus all of us. We must not lose sight of the fact that our words are extremely powerful. It is our prayer that you have seen this through the writings over the past week.

The bottom line is this: it all comes down to a choice. Are you going to use your words to poison or to encourage? Are you going to use your words to uplift others or tear them down? Are you going to mend relationships or are you going to drive a larger wedge between you? It all comes down to a choice.

We may not be convinced of the fact that our words are powerful. I have often heard people say, “Oh, well, a word’s a word” as an excuse to say whatever they want and feel good about themselves. Matthew 12 tells us that we will all have to give an account one day for every word that we have spoken. When you’re standing in front of Jesus and your entire vocabulary is laid out for all to see, how will you react? Will you tell Jesus, “Oh, well, a word’s a word?”

Our words are a big deal. The difference between positive and negative words is black and white…life and death.

As we finish out this series this week, how is your speech going to be different? In what ways are you going to change your speech in order to honor God and benefit others? Don’t allow another moment to go by without making the commitment to take care with what you say.

Jake Lawson

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May 4 – Me & My Big Mouth – Proverbs 25

Read Proverbs 25:11

4x or 5x per day – Yes, four or five times a day, when you feel like saying something negative to your loved one or others, don’t say it.

4x or 5x per day.

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” 

Proverbs 10:19

Toby Mac is a musician who wrote Jesus Freak in 1995, a very fun song about standing up for belief in Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution. Another song that Toby recently wrote is Speak Life: (see  YouTube.com)

“Some days life feels perfect
Other days, it just ain’t workin’
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between.
Yo it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn our heart through the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die
So speak life, speak life.”

By listening to music like this, it reminds me how wise it is to try to hold my tongue at times and speak words to loved ones or others that are positive.

The self-fulfilling prophecy: As a parent, I need to speak life towards my child. If the child is good at math, I need to tell him or her over and over again, “You are really good at math. Keep up the great work.” Sincere compliments and support give kids confidence. But, if I constantly say that my child is foolish and he or she hears it, then she may truly become foolish and out of control as an adult. So let’s speak life to our kids. Hold the tongue regarding negatives.

“He who answers before listening – that is his folly and shame.”

Proverbs 18:13

Part of holding the tongue is patience, where I can use my two ears and not my one mouth. James, a brother of Jesus, says to be quick to listen and slow to speak. He says to be slow to become angry because this is when you may say something you regret. And that does not bring the righteous life that God desires from us. It is part of humility and wisdom – thinking before speaking.

So hold your tongue.

4x or 5x per day.

You can do it.

Tom Weckesser

 

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May 3 – Me & My Big Mouth – Proverbs 21

Read Proverbs 21:23

Something that I love to do is to look back on my old yearbooks. It’s always so fun to see how people have grown up and how things have changed throughout the years. My favorite part of a high school yearbook is looking at the superlatives for each senior class.

There are tons of categories: best dressed, most likely to become president, greatest hair, and so on. My senior year, I was voted “Most Likely to End Up on SNL”. I was known for making people laugh. Every opportunity I saw, I would use my sarcasm and whit to get a chuckle from the people around me.

Unfortunately, there were times when the things I said were not as funny as everyone thought. My sarcastic comments intended to cause laughter became words that cut others deep. I used to sacrifice someone else’s feelings for the sake of getting a laugh out of others. This wasn’t okay.

The Book of Wisdom says that “laughter is good medicine”, but it also teaches in over 30 different verses to be careful with our words and how we use them. Our words have power. That is why the things we say matter.

It says in Proverbs 21:23,

“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”

Calamity: an event causing great and often sudden damage or distress; a disaster.

There have been plenty of times that the words I have used led to disaster, whether it was the wrong timing or something I shouldn’t have said in the first place. My words have caused calamity in the lives of others and there have also been times that others have used their words to destroy me. But that is not what our words are for.

Our words should be used to encourage, build up, and give life to those that we are interacting with every single day! While this may come naturally to some people, it can be a real challenge for others – I know it is for me. God has had to do some serious work on my mouth and on my heart, which is why today I wanted to give a few encouraging tips for how to allow God to take control of your words…

-Invite Him to help! God loves when we talk to Him, so, if your words – or anything else for that matter – are a challenge for you, ask for His help!

-Compliment others! Stay away from surface-level compliments, but mention things you really admire about them! Their smiles, laugh, how they care for others – instead of picking out negatives of others, be intentional about seeing the good in them!

-Memorize verses that you can keep on the tip of your tongue when you are tempted to say something harsh, so that you can replace it with God’s word!

Becca Harbaugh

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May 2 – Me & My Big Mouth – James 3

Read James 3:1-12

Who was it that came up with the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? They must have lived in a different world than you and me! OK, I will give to them that the little ditty sounds reasonable. I mean, sticks and stones are hard. When they hit the body, they hurt.  Meanwhile, words don’t require visible bandages or casts. Still, the pain is just as real…and typically lasts longer. My guess is the one who coined the phrase was trying in vain to convince himself/herself.

Nearly 2000 years ago, James, the half-brother of Jesus, identified the power of our words. Like a small bit directing a large horse or a small rudder steering a huge ship, the seemingly insignificant words we express have an immense impact. Like a tiny careless match that results in a huge fire, our words have the potential of creating vast devastation. But that is just the tip of our destructive verbal iceberg. Unfortunately, our words often demonstrate incredible inconsistency. Sunday morning we may be heard while sitting in a church service as we offer words of praise to our Creator. Meanwhile, Friday afternoon we may be heard while sitting on a clogged interstate as we curse the very ones created in His image.

The problem is universal. In all likelihood, you have been both the person who has been injured by words and the one who has injured with words.

Is the problem resolvable? The only solution for past injuries is forgiveness and attempts at reconciliation. And the only way to avoid being the cause of future verbal injury? Well, James describes it as a human impossibility.  “No man can tame the tongue,” he says.  (v. 8a) But, what is impossible for man is possible with God. As His children submit to the powerful Spirit of God in their lives, the fruit of the Spirit is borne in the form of fruit like “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22, 23)

Rather than pain, my preference is that fruit would characterize the outcome of the words I say. I’m sure that is your preference too. We must walk in the Spirit’s control.

Steve Kern

 

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May 1 – Me & My Big Mouth – Proverbs 12

Read Proverbs 12:18

“You have one half to prove to me you have what it takes to play college basketball. Right now, I don’t think you do.”

Reading over those words 8 years later still causes my heart to drop. I knew that I wasn’t playing my best basketball in that game. I knew it because I am my own worst critic. “You don’t have what it takes!” pierced me through to the innermost recesses of my soul. In that exact moment, as soon as I heard those words, I was done. Any last part of me that was holding on to hope was shattered. The game that I had dedicated literally blood, sweat and (a lot of) tears and years of my life to was up in flames. I was done. From that point on, I was so mad that I couldn’t even speak. It wasn’t until I got home and cried while my mom hugged me that I was able to tell them what was said and how I felt.

I’ve always been one to allow what people say to me and about me affect me too much. I’ve always been a soft, quiet and reserved person and that didn’t fit in with high school sports. Coaches would frequently and blatantly poke fun at the fact that I was soft. I was never big enough. I was never strong enough. I wasn’t tough enough. I wasn’t enough.

Words have power. Another passage in Proverbs says they have the power of life and death. The words that were said to me, and how I chose to internalize them, literally changed the course of my life.

Our passage in Proverbs 12 says that those who speak rashly are like the thrusting of a sword. I felt every bit of that.

However, there’s a second half to our verse.

When I think of the words of wisdom, I think of my dad. He has always been the one to approach any situation with a level head. He doesn’t allow emotions to get in the way of his decisions. They are all calculated and biblical.

During my own emotional maturation, I’ve learned to approach situations like my dad. Don’t be rash but be wise. Don’t act out of emotion but act after thoughtful prayer.

I challenge you all to do the same. Recognize that your words have the power to uplift, encourage and motivate in one breath and, in the other, tear down, demotivate and humiliate. Use your words for good.

Use your words to bring people closer to Jesus!

Jake Lawson

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