Monday, March 25, 2013

Today’s passage comes back to the subject of our words. The LORD knows we need lots of instruction in this area, because it is our mouth that gets us into so much trouble!

A soft answer turns away wrath,

    but a harsh word stirs up anger.  

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,

    but the mouths of fools pour out folly. (Proverbs 15:1-2)

 “You catch more flies with honey!” I’m not sure when I first heard this saying, but it goes along with verse one above. This just seems intuitive to me, that you will get a better response if you frame your words in sweetness when you need to respond to a criticism or voice a complaint. Yet, our natural response when we feel we have been “attacked” is to get defensive, and often, when we have a complaint, we want to be heard, so we up the volume and become hostile. This just escalates the problem!

One year I made a REALLY dumb decision in my classroom that involved one of my sweetest girls. Her mom, who is actually one of my favorites, came in the next day to give me an earful. There was nothing to do but admit that I had been incredibly wrong and apologize profusely. I could have defended my decision as the teacher and just stood my ground, but it would have been wrong for several reasons. First of all, the mother’s complaint was legitimate, and second, had I answered in a defensive manner, her anger would have skyrocketed! Once I accepted my responsibility, her balloon of anger popped and we had a really constructive discussion that actually allowed me to bring the LORD into the discussion. We remain mutual fans!

Jon Courson has an interesting look at verse two above, because he says even knowledge can be used in a foolish way. He reminds us of the night that Peter got into trouble with a sword. Remember when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter took out his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in order to defend the LORD. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the ear, his final healing before the crucifixion. Courson points out that, in the same way, we can use the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, to strike out at others to prove or defend a point.

Peter had impulsively used the sword right after failing to stay awake and pray with Jesus in the garden. So, Courson speculates that he may have been using activity to make up for his lack of piety. Hmmm... there’s one we have all been guilty of at some time.

So, whether we are making a complaint or giving out God’s Word, we first need to slow down and pray that our words will be edifying, rather than destructive. If we do this, first, we may just decide that our words are not even needed! But, surely, any words we give out will be more Spirit-directed! This just seems like good ol’ common sense.  

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