“Speak Life”

(Mark 5: 35-43) 35 While he was still talking, some people came from the leader’s house and told him, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?” 36 Jesus overheard what they were talking about and said to the leader, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.” 37-40 He permitted no one to go in with him except Peter, James, and John. They entered the leader’s house and pushed their way through the gossips looking for a story and neighbors bringing in casseroles. Jesus was abrupt: “Why all this busybody grief and gossip? This child isn’t dead; she’s sleeping.” Provoked to sarcasm, they told him he didn’t know what he was talking about. 40-43 But when he had sent them all out, he took the child’s father and mother, along with his companions, and entered the child’s room. He clasped the girl’s hand and said, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, get up.” At that, she was up and walking around! This girl was twelve years of age. They, of course, were all beside themselves with joy. He gave them strict orders that no one was to know what had taken place in that room.

Did you ever hear that the strongest muscle in the human body is the tongue?  Most of us have heard so at some point, and though this little “fun fact” ins’t exactly true, the tongue is pretty fascinating when you think about it.  It can twist, it can bend, it can cup, and it’s often used playfully to blow raspberries and to make silly faces.  Interestingly enough, it isn’t just one muscle — it’s a network of several muscles, giving it the ability to bend and flex in many different ways, enabling us to speak, eat, drink, and swallow.  What is most amazing though, is that the tongue NEVER TIRES!  Think about that for a minute.  The one thing that is probably the most difficult for us to control and tame is also the one part of our bodies that never grows weary.  You know, much of what happens in the physical realm of our lives mirrors what is going on spiritually, so it does make sense that our tongues can get totally out of control when we don’t monitor it properly.  It’s like an annoying toy with brand new batteries (yeah, I was thinking of the Energizer Bunny too!) — eventually you’d have to stop being lazy and actually make the effort to reach over and physically turn that thing off! 

There is power in what we say.  The Bible tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  (Proverbs 18:21)  Our words verbalize what we are already thinking and feeling.  That is why we so often find ourselves with a “foot” in our mouths — because eventually what we truly believe comes spewing out, and it can be hurtful or embarrassing much of the time.  My grandmother used to tell me that there is always a little truth to every joke…you know, when you say something a that’s little mean and you quickly bandage it with a “just kidding” or a wink.  Be honest, if you didn’t think it…even just for a moment…it could never come out of your mouth.  Luke 6:45 says,  “A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.”  Your words may not always be the truth, but they’re definitely your truth…reflecting what you think, what you feel, and who you are inside. 

The bottom line is that we are Christians, striving to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus, and as such we have to monitor what we say very closely.  When Jairus’ daughter died, all of the people surrounding his home began to chatter and gossip and speak death into Jairus’ ears.  Their words were a reflection of their measures of faith.  Jesus never once said that the girl was dead and that he would raise her from such.  Instead, He just spoke words of life.  What we speak into the lives of others can be life-changing.  A simple compliment can turn someone’s entire day around for the better…life.  A cutting remark can take root and hang on for a lifetime…death.   We must speak life, as much and as often as we possibly can!  We each have a powerful tool that never gets tired, so let’s use it the way our Lord intended us to— by confessing our sins and praying, by singing praises, by telling others of His love and faithfulness, and by encouraging one another with truth and love.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I don’t ever want to be the Debbie Downer, busybody gossip standing outside with a casserole.  Instead, help me to bridle my tongue when it gets to flapping, so that I can instead be a Peter, a James, or a John — full of faith and life-giving words.  I want to be on the inside with You, Lord, where healing and life take place.  Amen.    

The More You Know…

(Psalm 101:5)  Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret, I will put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, I will not tolerate.

My Granny Frances always gave me really great advice, which always seemed to begin with, “Honey…”  Most of her advice I remember, verbatim, and it continues to be useful in every stage of my life.  I remember once she said to me, “Honey, if that gal will talk about someone to you, she’s done talked about you to someone else.  Drop her like a hot biscuit.”  That’s good wisdom.  Granny was right.  Sometimes you do have to let go of friendships that are shallow because they can damage your witness to others.  If someone is a known gossip and backbiter, is that something you want to be associated with in your circle of influence?

There comes a time when social graces have to be put aside and you have to put a muzzle on all of that ugly barking.  When someone begins badmouthing another in your presence, or filling your ear with their garbage talk, did you know you can nicely ask them to shut up?  Just tell them to quit it and explain yourself.  It’s not rude, it’s the right thing to do.  In 2 Timothy 3: 1-5, it is written, “Understand that the last days will be dangerous times. People will be selfish and love money. They will be the kind of people who brag and who are proud. They will slander others, and they will be disobedient to their parents. They will be ungrateful, unholy, unloving, contrary, and critical. They will be without self-control and brutal, and they won’t love what is good. They will be people who are disloyal, reckless, and conceited. They will love pleasure instead of loving God. They will look like they are religious but deny God’s power. Avoid people like this.”

So there it is.  My mother has always told me, “Some people…well, you just gotta love ‘em from a distance.”  This is something that I have learned is invaluable.  A social life is nice to have, but not at the expense of my reputation or integrity.  You can call it what you will, but I’m guarded and with good reason.  I just think it is important to be careful.  I have learned the hard way that not everyone is to be trusted with something so valuable as an intimate friendship.  Do know, this should never be a hindrance when it comes to loving others the way that Christ did.  Think about that for a minute though, wasn’t Jesus careful himself of who he trusted?  It all kind of goes back to the old adage, “Choose your friends wisely.”  You can love everyone, but not everyone has to be your best friend. 

On the other side of the coin, maybe you are the one who gets caught up in the gossip.  The tongue is a hard thing to control, and for whatever reason some people really struggle with this more than anything else.  Hey, I’m not here to write you off…we all have our own little marbles we slip on from time to time.  It could even be that you don’t truly realize what you’re doing.  Well here are some signs that maybe this is an area of growth for you.

  1. You’ve noticed that some friends may have stopped calling and/or texting as often.
  2. People make excuses to avoid spending time with you, or often cancel plans.
  3. You complain a LOT.
  4. You don’t really know what’s going on in the lives of your friends.
  5. You’re jealous and give back-handed compliments.  (“Your haircut makes you look slim.”)

Those are just a few signs that maybe you’re a little toxic and that you’re probably pushing others away with negativity and by stirring up discord amongst others.  You know what though?  That’s not in God’s plan for your life.  He wants us all to have good, lasting friendships that together are His light in the darkness.  We can’t do that when we are just little lights that flicker on and off sporadically.  We have to guard that flame and keep it burning high and bright! 

Finally, let me just say that we are all guilty of biting the occasional back, so to speak.  It happens.  That’s why Christians need one another though, to lovingly say to our brother or sister, “Hey, that’s not okay.”  When we can gently correct wrongdoing and continue on in love, that’s true, godly friendship. 

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, give me eyes to see clearly and ears to hear the truth.  Help me to lovingly avoid and silence gossip, and give me the boldness to take a stand for what is right.  And when I am wrong, when I use my tongue to hurt or to bring dissension, send godly friends my way to shut me up.  Help me to be better at loving others in all ways…the best way…Your way.  Amen.