Thought For the Week Continued
There is an old adage that says, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason: We should listen for twice as much time as we speak.” The Season of Lent began this past week. Although not a tradition at Avalon, it is an observance that many believers participate in. The basic idea of Lent is for believers to “replicate” the sacrifice given by Christ by giving up a luxury for a six week period of time leading up to Easter.
The Bible has a lot to say about how and when we should speak. James tells us the tongue is untameable (3:8) and Paul told the church at Ephesus that only words that build one another up should leave our lips (Eph. 4:29). With more and more tools are our disposal for spreading words (texts, IMs, email, snaps, Instagram, etc.) we, as Christ followers, should be very careful how and when we use our words.
The Bible says a lot about when not to speak which gives us wonderful guidelines for when to speak. The Bible says (sometimes in loose translation) you should remain silent if:
If you will have to eat your words later (Prov. 18:21) or they will later bring you shame (Prov. 8:8)
If you have said it more than once (Prov. 19:13)
If you are flattering a wicked person (Prov. 24:24)
If you are experiencing the heat of anger (Prov. 14:17?
If you do not have all the facts (Prov. 18:13) or have not verified the story (Deut. 17:6)
If you are making light of Holy things (Ecc. 5:2) or are joking about sinful things (Prov. 14:9)
If you are damaging a reputation (Prov. 16:27), a friendship Prov. 16:28) or are representing God or your Christian family poorly (1 Peter 2:21-23)
If your words are critical without cause (James 3:9) or meddling in something that is none of your business (Prov. 26:17)
When your intent is to lie (Proverbs 4:24) or deceive (Prov. 14:5)
If you cannot shout it out loud (or it must be spoken in secret) (Prov. 25:28)
And (this is a tough one) if your words are keeping you from doing your job (Prov. 14:23)
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. But it is enough to know that James is right - the tongue is hard to control and leads us into trouble more often than not.
Imagine how the world would be if each and every one of us would take the time to listen more than we speak, wait to be asked for advice before giving it, and spend time listening to God for His direction on what you should or should not say. Is that not the kind of Kingdom we should all want to be a part of? Maybe being quiet and listening would be a way to honor God’s sacrifice this Lent season.