Thursday, February 9, 2017

Accountable for EVERY Word

Image Courtesy of marcolm/freedigitalphotos.net
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account 
on the day of judgment 
for every empty word they have spoken.  
Matthew 12:36 NIV

Well, at the ripe old age of 41, (with hopefully another 41 years left in me),  I can tell you that Scripture gave me pause a couple weeks ago when I listened to a sermon on slander.  I can admit that accounting for all my empty words on Judgment Day will take a HEFTY chunk of time.

Setting all humor aside, however, I was truly convicted by the message our pastor delivered and the Scripture that he used to support his position.  When I consider the empty words I spoke as a selfish child, a hormonal teen-ager, a prideful twenty-something, and an entitled thirty-something...all I can think to say is: in the words of my Minnesota heritage, UFF-DA!

Some people may argue that a few of my "empty word" incidents may have actually been beneficial, or "for a good reason."
  • You were hurt.
  • You were scared.
  • You were pushed to the extreme.
  • You had to in order to make it better for others.
Okay.  Those may SOUND like good reasons.  But I also know that we are told our broken hearts are meant to help us LEARN how to be more like Jesus.  That means we SHOULD reflect on how responded when "in the fire."
  • Did I educate someone gently, or did I snap?
  • Did I relish the opportunity to "tell them off"?
  • Did I use the opportunity to build myself up while also belittling the other person?
Paul's first letter to Peter tells me what I need to know as far as "evaluating" my words, their delivery, and their intentions.  

So get rid of all evil behavior.  
Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, 
and all unkind speech, like newborn babies, 
you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow 
into a full experience of salvation.  
1 Peter 2:1-2 NLT

Ah-ha...what we crave says a lot about where we're spending our time, doesn't it?
  • Do we crave the sparring on social media?
  • Do we want to get our own jabs in?
  • Do we dream of the BEST comebacks so we can make THAT person feel as bad as they made US feel?
I can easily admit to being guilty of throwing out many empty words (both written and spoken) and being a part of slander.  

So, what can we do to stop?

Restrict your time on social media:  Studies have proven time and time again that we will often say and do things over electronic media that we would NEVER do or say in person. Plus, the additional time scrolling through timelines and newsfeeds gobbles up our time which can be spent in other, LIFE-RESTORING ways.

Increase your time in Scripture:  We are to CRAVE spiritual milk!  The best way to change your CRAVINGS is to change how you EAT.  When I first lost weight, I had an apple every day during lunch. I started to CRAVE my apples rather than craving chocolates and chips. Start a daily reading plan, or begin a scripture memorization program and use THOSE rather than spending time on social media.

(As a side note....I've done these things myself, and only have notifications turned on for my support groups on Facebook so, while I may now be the "friend" who never "likes" anything on Facebook...I still have access to my support groups once a day.)

Do a Relationship Check:  Do you have friendships that are built on slander and "misery loves company?" I have had such relationships myself.  After realizing that I had them, I was able to begin to filter them out. I have friendships now that are built on constructive conversations which may at times be problem-solving, or faith-building...but they rarely will head down the rabbit-hole of slander and pointless complaining.

BITE YOUR TONGUE:  (And bind your fingers...) 

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, 
but only in expressing his opinion.  
Proverb 18:2 ESV 

If it is something you TRULY need to say in order to try to make a change that betters society, then do it privately and directly to the "change makers".   

None of this is easy to do today.  I totally understand that.  We live in a culture of TOO MUCH information, TOO MUCH technology, TOO MUCH opportunity to waste time and express ourselves. 

God didn't give us the Bible JUST because He wanted to get HIS opinions out...He gave us the Bible as a guide to our life, and more importantly, a guide to our SALVATION.  Do NOT regard it as out-dated or irrelevant.  

We NEED this spiritual milk TODAY, more than EVER BEFORE.

Pray:  Heavenly Father, I ask forgiveness for all the empty words I've spoken or written and I pray for your help to stop me from doing it.  Thank you for your Word to guide, caution, direct and soothe us while we learn how to live in a way that is set apart from the rest of the world. Amen.

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