I am one of those people who almost never sleeps the night through. I toss and turn, (and somehow remain married after 21 years). I’ll wake up, roll over and try to go back to sleep. Often that proves to be more difficult than it should. My brain turns on and I’ll start thinking about work, kids, conversations I’ve had or meant to have. I’ll get anxious, frustrated, nervous and fearful. I’ve adopted a mantra that I pray when this happens, “Lord, things always look better in daylight.” Recently, during a difficult night, I made the most incredible discovery, my Bible app on my phone will read to me! Sometimes, you’ve just got to love (or at least appreciate) technology. Now when I go to bed instead of turning on my ocean or storm sounds, I’ll turn on my Bible. It’s hard to wake up anxious listening to the Word of God.
Monday night in one of my awake moments I heard a scripture that stayed with me. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (bold added) Colossians 4:5-6
Colossians is a beautiful letter and contains so much wisdom for living as a follower of Christ.
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (bold added) Colossians 3:8-10
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (bold added) Colossians 3:17
I wrote not long ago about absolutes and how God uses them frequently. He is Absolutely Absolute. In fact, He uses words like every, always, everyone, all, whenever, and whatever. He doesn’t use words like some, most, sometimes, occasionally, or when it’s easy or convenient. God is absolute in who He is – – unswervingly God. Being created in His image, we are called to be likewise.
What does it mean to make the most of every opportunity with outsiders and for our conversations to always be full of grace and seasoned with salt so we can answer everyone? I noticed the It doesn’t matter who you are talking directly too or whom else may or may not hear. Do all our conversations with, or around people (including your comments, posts, likes and reactions on social media or anywhere online) conforms to God’s requirement? Are all our words uplifting and encouraging, to build up the body, or tear it down, do they point to Christ or the world?
Remember what Paul said, whatever you do in word or deed do it in Jesus’ name. What about that last watercooler conversation, or the waiter that got your order wrong, or the lady who cut you off while you were driving your kids carpool? Would the person/people listening hear Jesus in them?
I’ve mentioned before that I heard a pastor on the radio mention that people are more likely to watch how a Christian lives or listen to what they say, than they are to read the Bible. What are they learning about Jesus from us, what kind of witness are we presenting?
In Ephesians 4:29 Paul states, “ 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.”
In each of the first three gospels Jesus is quoted as saying that it is not from the outside that a man can be defiled, speaking about the Levitical laws, it is from the inside. From the goodness of a man’s heart his mouth speaks, and from the evil in a man’s heart he does evil and thus defiles himself. Matt 12:36-37, Mark 7:20-23, Luke 6:45)Jesus own words testify to the importance of what comes out of our mouths.
Words have power. They have the power to hurt or to heal. They have the power to tear apart or restore. Hastily spoken words can have far reaching consequences to those around us, destroying relationships and our witness.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8
We are called to be Jesus’ witnesses in the world. To give testimony to who He is, what He’s done, how He’s worked in our lives. If our words, intentional or not, don’t speak to this it would be better if we don’t speak at all. I love the line from the old, animated Disney movie Bambi, where Thumper is being a bit of a gossip and his mother catches him and makes him repeat the advice he’d recently received from his father. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all”.
If what comes out of our mouths is our witness of Jesus to those around us, are we paying enough attention to what we say? Not just when we’re out and about, but when we’re home with family, spending time with friends, at work, at church. Is what we say truly a reflection of what Jesus would have us say? What do our words say about Jesus?
Yes, it’s hard! At time it seems darn near impossible. Two more great Words from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (bold added) Philippians 4:8
And, the ultimate encouragement, “ I can do ALL this through him who gives me strength.” (bold caps added) Philippians 4:13
What we fill our minds and hearts with will come out in our words. What we read, watch, listen too, spend our time on, will all affect our heart and mind and from that the mouth speaks. I listen to the Bible so that the last and first thing I hear are the words of my Savior, that is how I combat the other stuff I’m bombarded with all day long. We can’t fight this battle on our own, and it is only when we invite the Holy Spirit in that we can hope to tame our tongues.
Before you speak, especially when you are angry, hurt, frustrated, or anxious, ask for the Holy Spirit’s help, then ask if what you’re about to say is true, is it helpful, and is it necessary…I’d also add, does it bear a good witness for Christ?
We all struggle in this area, in an emotional moment it’s difficult to hit pause. However, if we all learn to do this, to really make it a priority, how much calmer, kinder, and loving would our world be? It would be much more like Jesus intends and we truly would experience more of His eternal kingdom here on earth.
Please help me share the good news of Jesus and how He can change your life, and our world!
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