Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Anyone else remember that saying as a kid. I remember hearing and saying it as a kid. Wouldn’t it be great if that were true?
Have you ever been hurt by something that someone else said to you? And have you ever hurt someone else with the words you said? Naturally, the obvious answer to both of those questions is Heck Yeah. We have experienced both.
And that understanding is going to lead us into our next discussion of our theme of control verses influence. And so here is the thought process for today.
We cannot control what other people say, and truthfully, we cant always control our own mouths, right. We know what words should come out of our mouths, and the words that shouldn’t because we have messed up in the past with our words, but we still cant control what comes out.
But, can we allow the Holy Spirit to assist us to better influence a situation and a relationship by what comes out of our mouths.
So, we are going to look at a few of the different areas of life where our mouths can bless others, or not bless others. And as we consider what the Holy Spirit might say to us in each of these areas, we are going to peak into some words of wisdom out of the book of Proverbs. And there are lots of nuggets in the book of proverbs that talk about our words.
Lets think of some of the areas of life where our mouths can potentially bless someone, or not.
Using colorful metaphors, or those famous 4 letter words.
We won’t spend long on this one, because truthfully, I don’t find a lot in the bible that would speak specifically to swearing, but then again, the fact that we don’t find using those words in the Bible, maybe that is telling us something as well.
People who know me know that I just don’t swear. And that’s not just because I am a pastor. It just hasn’t been me. And I have worked and hung out in places where swearing would be normal. I worked in a factory, in a warehouse, and in an engineering firm. I also spent time as a volunteer fireman and I have spent lots of time at hunting camps. So, I have been places where swearing would be normal. But it still wasn’t part of me, mostly, because I didn’t grow up around it. Parents didn’t. And my dad spent his life in factories, and as a fireman.
Here is a proverb that maybe speaks to it.
10:13 Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding,
but those lacking sense will be beaten with a rod.
I remember my mom one time talking about why she doesn’t swear, or why she doesn’t see swearing as necessary, she said something like, she thinks that swearing comes out of the mouths of those who don’t have anything smarter or wiser as it says in this proverb.
And truthfully, one of the few times in my life that I can remember swearing was at time when this passage came true for me.
Shop class hell…paddle.
If Jesus worked in the mine or out in the oil fields or in the factories, or in one of those places where 4 letter words are normal. Would jesus swear? I don’t know. I know in Matthew 23, Jesus is taking those scribes and pharisees to task, and he shares the truth with them that they are damned to hell. The actual words we find in the Bible are Woe to you. Which in that time meant what I just said. Jesus wasn’t saying it to get attention, or emphasis. He was speaking truth.
So, lets leave it here with these two questions for you to ponder. First, do those words, when you use them, are they necessary to what you are saying? Two, as a Christian, do they help your witness for Christ? Ponder it. Pray about it. You might say, I can’t control those words, they are just part of who I am. Well, but what if you gave up that control to the HS? And what if the HS wanted to change you?
Now, before we move on, I will say, if some of the words you use are Jesus Christ, and God damn it, I would challenge you on those words as taking the Lord’s name in vain. If Jesus loved you so much that he gave all for you, why not use his name in a better context. It’s a matter of reverence for God.
Lets look at another way we use our words to influence others. Lets look at the idea of lying. I think we all know in general what lying is, baring a false witness, saying one thing when the truth is something else.
This is a big one for me. My kids know that this one is a big deal for me. If I ask my kid to clean their room, and they don’t get it finished, that’s one thing. I might be a little disappointed. But if they tell me they did, when they didn’t, so if they lie to me about it. That takes it to way different level. Why is that so big to me?
Why is lying such a huge deal? Because I want to be able to trust my kids with little things and big things. If they lie to me about something as small as cleaning their rooms, then they might also lie to me about something much bigger, like taking drugs. I want them to build up trust with me by being honest with me in the little things, like cleaning a room so that we can trust each other to live in the truth in the bigger things too. Being faithful, trustworthy is so huge.
My three big kids know this lesson. Truth is always bigger than not. Daniel, my 8 year old is in the midst of learning this lesson. We have caught him in a couple little lies recently, which is good, because that allows us to teach him the valuable lesson of truth telling.
So, is truth instead of lies important to you also? Not just what others tell you, but are you big on telling the truth, in ALL circumstances? Or are you a little white lie kinda guy?
Where is God with Truth telling? Well, if you read any part of the Bible, more than likely you will find a lesson on God’s heart on this topic. Let’s look at a couple of those proverbs to see a little of God’s heart.
12:19 Truthful words stand the test of time,
but lies are soon exposed.
12:22 The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in those who tell the truth.
This is a big one for God. Detests and delights are big words.
But what about those moments when our wives ask us that famous question when they put on something to wear…”Do I look fat in this outfit?” or “Does this look ok?” man, those are loaded questions, aren’t they? If we respond…do you want the truth? We already told her there is a problem.
What if we asked a question in response, like…Are you excited about the outfit?
But what if we blamed it on the clothes. “Honey, you look great in most outfits, but whoever designed this outfit wasn’t thinking of you. They did not do a good job.”
Ultimately, God says, truth wins. Sometimes the truth hurts as we know, but the words that come out of our mouth will demonstrate over and over, can I be trusted. Am I about truth, or not. How important is the truth to you, at home, at work, when you are buying a used car. How important is truth? Well, its even more important to God, so, a holy man will allow the Holy Spirit to keep us living in the truth.
Have fun discussing that one in your life groups for those of you doing that.
Ok, lets look at one other area of using our words to influence lives around us.
Lets go back to that line I opened with…the sticks and stones line. Words or names will never hurt me. Now that is a lie.
If you are listening to this, you have more than likely experienced both ends of this one. you have more than likely been hurt by someone else’s words, and you have probably hurt someone else with your words, right? Can you remember one of each of those moments?
We wish we could control our words here, don’t we? And we wish we could control other’s words as well.
Some of you have been battered and bruised by other people’s words. Many times its someone who should be a blessing to us, but wow, how they have stung us with those words.
God is fully aware how our words can hurt.
10:11 The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;
the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.
12:18 Some people make cutting remarks,
but the words of the wise bring healing.
13:14 The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain;
those who accept it avoid the snares of death.
15:4 Gentle words are a tree of life;
a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.
And that’s just a few of God’s thoughts.
Me and passive aggressiveness.
Others Sarcasim. Criticism. A lack of noticing? OUR TONE!!!
Asking the HS to help us get better.
Maybe read through proverbs and meditate on some of these verses I mentioned.
When is the time in the day, who is it with, that you are more likely to crush someone’s spirit, or bring a snare of death? When you are tired? When you are not getting your way, so pride and selfishness lead the moment? When is your normal moment. Pay attention to that. Because if you are aware, be praying about it. Ask someone else to pray with you about it. So that the HS can guide you into those moments to get better.
When we get it wrong. When we see we hurt them. ask forgiveness. The more we acknowledge we got it wrong, hopefully we will be more intentional at getting it right.
Our words have tremendous power. they can bring life, or death.
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