It’s that time of year again…the smell of rain is in the air, and people are lining their wallets with excuses to buy things on Black Friday. As a former demo lady at COSTCO, I know all about the sales pitch. Make ’em laugh, pitch it as health food with a wink, and end with a grin. I remember many moments in my “trial and error” stage of yelling out to customers where I was very glad for the concealing qualities of my hair net. Not even family recognized me. I could practice my speech with as many flops as I needed. Proverbs, once again, made me think today:
“When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.
20 The tongue of the righteous is as choice silver,
The heart of the wicked is worth little.
21 The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of [k]understanding.”
When a lie slips out, or a comment with sandpaper undertones, I just wish I would have stayed quiet. Many people would say that I do not have a problem with gabbing, but I know the dark side of my mental commentary.
Then again, there are moments where something extraordinary will pass my lips and I want to write it down. Those words seem to work like anti-gravity: people lift their shoulders, their chins, and their smiles. It’s nourishing their soul. I wish I could do that more.
James 3 talks all about the tongue, and the power it has in the world. Like a ship’s rudder, it can steer in good and bad directions. Yet as James says, “8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both [g]fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce [h]fresh.”
What characterizes your speech? Water can be distilled, flavored, carbonated, but in the end, salt water is still gross no matter how fancy it is. What flavor flows out of your life?
Words are powerful…”the Word” is one of Jesus’ names, and God spoke the world into existence. Speech is the tool that clarifies or confuses. And we are responsible for how we speak. Jesus said in Matthew 12,
“35 The good man brings out of his good treasure [ae]what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure [af]what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every [ag]careless word that people [ah]speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For [ai]by your words you will be justified, and [aj]by your words you will be condemned.”
I love the focus on thankfulness during this season. I want this to be a focus to help reset my viewpoint, and gain some positive perspective. So this is my prayer, a Psalm of praise (Psalm 147):
[a]Praise [b]the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For [c]it is pleasant and praise is becoming.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their [d]wounds.
4 He counts the number of the stars;
He [e]gives names to all of them.
5 Great is our Lord and abundant in strength;
His understanding is [f]infinite.
6 The Lord [g]supports the afflicted;
He brings down the wicked to the ground.
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
Sing praises to our God on the lyre,
8 Who covers the heavens with clouds,
Who provides rain for the earth,
Who makes grass to [h]grow on the mountains.
9 He gives to the beast its food,
And to the young ravens which cry.
10 He does not delight in the strength of the horse;
He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man.
11 The Lord favors those who fear Him,
Those who wait for His lovingkindness.
12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;
He has blessed your sons within you.
14 He makes [i]peace in your borders;
He satisfies you with the [j]finest of the wheat.
15 He sends forth His command to the earth;
His word runs very swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
He scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He casts forth His ice as fragments;
Who can stand before His cold?
18 He sends forth His word and melts them;
He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.
19 He declares His words to Jacob,
His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any nation;
And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.
[k]Praise [l]the Lord!