Last summer while we were on vacation, we made some new friends in Arkansas, Bill and Darlene. They live on a beautiful farm in the Ozarks. They didn't always. When they first moved to Arkansas, they lived in a fairly primitive cabin along the Buffalo River, and Darlene told us that one of their neighbors was a classic Ozark moonshiner. He invited them over for dinner a number of times and Darlene said they finally ran out of excuses. Well, when they got there for dinner, the moonshiner told Bill, "Now you go pick out what chicken you want for dinner out there on the front porch." Bill did and the moonshiner just shot it down dead right there on the front porch. And then they came in and the moonshiner and his wife cleaned and prepared it right in front of their guests. Darlene said the jam on the table was alive with flies covering it totally. Well when their host offered them a taste of his moonshine, Darlene said, "I was really tempted to drink some to kill whatever I just ate." After dinner, the moonshiner was sitting in his rocking chair in the living room talking with Bill. Bill noticed some large holes along the floor of the cabin and he asked how they got there. The moonshiner said, "Well, we got mice," and he said, "I decided I'd stay up late and I'd sit here in my rocking chair. I'd see one. I'd pull out my gun and I'd shoot it."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Shooting at Mice."
Wouldn't you say that old moonshiner was guilty of a little overkill? So are we; except we don't do it with a gun - we do it with our mouth, which leads us to one of the wisest prayers David ever prayed. Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Psalm 141, verse 3: "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Guard my mouth, watch my lips, Lord. It's something you would do with a dangerous criminal or a wild animal, something that could do a lot of damage - like your mouth.
Proverbs 12:18 says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword." The problem is that when we get angry or frustrated, we tend to start shooting verbally - sometimes at mice, things that don't really merit all that fire. Anger is one primary area in which we tend to overkill. We fire away with killer sarcasm and killer put-down and killer lines just to vent our frustration or to get our way or win. We leave huge holes that are there long after the incident or issues are remembered. Oh we may win a little, but we lose a lot with those reckless, swordlike words.
Nagging - that's another form of verbal overkill especially when someone you love is doing something you don't like or you are afraid it will hurt them. Husbands get nagged, wives do, children, parents - and nagging can become a way of life. We just keep shooting all the time until that person simply becomes immune to our words and our concerns. That's why we need to learn to chose our battlegrounds. Don't fight every battle. Ask yourself, "Does this battle really, really matter?" You need to save your ammunition for the battles that really matter. Parents especially are noted for nagging about every little thing and then finding themselves unheard when a really significant issue comes along. You shut people down with the verbal overkill of nagging.
We need to make the prayer of David our prayer. "Lord, guard my mouth, watch my lips." Our angry words, our nagging words are always trying to get out, and we need to always be guarding them with the power of Jesus Christ. The alternative is big holes that last a long time because we shot at too many mice. Save your ammunition for the battles that really count.