Last week we opened with these scriptures:
Proverbs 21:23 tells us: He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles. (NASB)
And the same verse in the Passion Translation: Watch your words and be careful what you say, and you’ll be surprised how few troubles you will have. (TPT)
There’s not a one of us who haven’t said things we regretted later. We’ve all had to repent, far more than just once. So why do we say some of the things we later have to repent for? This week let’s look at some of the reasons that prompt ungodly speech.
SELF-PITY – when we feel that we are being unfairly treated or have to fulfill responsibilities that others don’t understand or appreciate, we can so easily feel sorry for ourselves. If you’ve been lied about, rejected or discriminated against or when you thought you had a chance at something special and then were derailed by someone else, self-pity tells you that life is passing you by and you’ll never see your dreams come true.
We’ve all been guilty of it but self-pity is not acceptable for a Christian. When we utter words of self-pity, we expose our lack of confidence in God and His perfect plan for our life. You see, God’s more interested in your holiness than in your happiness! Ouch! But it’s true. When Jesus paid the highest price in the universe to make you a child of God, He had in mind that you would grow into His image and likeness. And Jesus never uttered one word of self-pity!
Stuff happens. It sure does. The issue is how we view it. Any situation that would incline you toward self-pity is actually a TEST. The Lord is looking to see if your faith in Him will triumph or whether you’ll fall into fleshly patterns. Every test is for advancement. Remember that. Words we speak out of self-pity betray a lack of faith and trust in God’s plan for our lives.
SELF – DEFENSE: A great man of God, Peter Cantrell, often says, ‘The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.‘ How true that is. The person who is compelled to prove that they are right and others are wrong is not free; neither are they humble. They spend their energies struggling to make others think they know better or are smarter or wiser. They have a ready answer before the other person finishes the question.
The truth is that working so hard to prove your superiority actually exposes your weakness. Nobody likes a know-it-all. Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.‘ Luke 16:15
The most compelling feeling in the world is to defend yourself, to explain yourself, to vindicate yourself. We all know what it feels like to want to be vindicated. Trying to be justified or exonerated before people is a crippling and counterproductive exercise. It is stressful and exhausting. However, we can enjoy peace IF we learn and live by the principle: GOD does the best job of vindicating his servants. If we try to do it for ourselves, He backs off. If we trust His word: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Romans 12:19, He’ll do it brilliantly!
FEAR – Speaking out of fear always leads to trouble – always! Most lies are told because of fear: fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, fear of what other people think, fear of negative consequences if we tell the truth, fear of failure, fear of being hurt, fear of being controlled. To say it another way, dishonesty is the system of controlling what scares us.
My dear friends, God loves you with an incomparable love; Jesus gave everything to make you His own. You are utterly secure in His love if you have given your all to Him.
Proverbs 29:25 says: ‘The fear of man is a trap but he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.’ Fear is a killer. Truth is life-giving. Words spoken from fear hinder our relationship with God and with others. We all have to repent for words spoken in fear, don’t we?
ANGER – Angry words. Nasty words. Mean words.
Again we turn to the Proverbs. The man who controls his temper is greater than a powerful warrior who conquers a city. Prov. 16:32 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Prov. 29:11
What about ‘righteous’ anger? There is a thin line between righteous anger and losing your temper. Righteous anger is not about you; losing your temper is.
What the Bible calls righteous anger refers to attitudes about blatant sinfulness in a city or nation, corruption in government or business, desecrating the Name of God and the Word of God. Yes, there can be a holy, righteous anger about those things.
Losing your temper is entirely different. That’s when something or someone sends you over the edge because what they did or said, or what happened, doesn’t fit your personal agenda for that time and place. You’re impatient, quick-tempered and in that state of mind, say and do things that do not in any way reflect the Christ in you.
Undisciplined anger can lead to serious sin. Cain killed his brother, Abel, because he was angry. Anger explodes in cruel words, in harsh words and sometimes in expletives that should never cross the lips of anyone professing to be a follower of Christ.
FATIGUE – This may surprise you but the truth is, we are easily prone to say things we will later regret when we are exhausted, tired out, worn out. We get snippy, short with others, careless with our words and sometimes sarcastic.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. If we know – and we should all take this to heart – if we know that when we’re tired, we’re more likely to spew out something we’ll regret later, let’s have the good sense to bridle our tongues. Let’s recognize that we’re not at our best when we’re exhausted, ask the Lord to help us and bite our tongues!
There are probably other reasons why we misuse words and find ourselves needing to repent for what we’ve said, but I pray that these few thoughts will be of help to all of us in our ongoing effort to make our speech pleasing and honoring to the Lord.
Some years ago it was quite popular to wear a bracelet with the letters, WWJD. Those initials stood for ‘What Would Jesus Do?’
I think of it from time to time and in the context of today’s lesson, perhaps we should train ourselves to ask, ‘What would Jesus say?’
Change your words – Change your world.