Thursday, February 5, 2015
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I'll tell you what kind of airline passenger makes an interesting neighbor; someone who has never flown before. Flight attendants refer to them as "white knuckle" fliers from the way they hang on. Well, my friend, John, was on his way to speak somewhere. And since it was just a one-day meeting, he was dressed in the suit that he was going to speak in. And he had the joy that day of sitting next to a lady who was on her rookie flight. She was as nervous, as they used to say, as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Whenever there was a noise, like the landing gear retracting, she would say, "What was that?" And John would patiently explain.
After they had been airborne a few minutes, Mrs. Rookie suddenly muttered, "I feel sick." My friend suddenly found that little discomfort bag in the pouch in front of her; the one they give you when your stomach doesn't want to keep what it has. Wouldn't you know it? A few minutes later John's head was turned and she unloaded her lunch all over his only suit. Oh she did say something after that, though, after she redecorated my friend. She just said, "I feel so much better now." Great! And how was he feeling?
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Verbal Vomit and How Your Words Can Hurt."
That's strong language, I know. But it might be what some of us need to get us thinking about the hurting talk that comes out of our mouth. And it certainly isn't any stronger than the words God himself uses to describe how we sound too much of the time. These are some of the most revealing, convicting words in the Bible.
James 3, beginning with verse 2, our word for today from the Word of God. Think about some of your recent conversations. "If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person; sets the whole course of his life on fire and is set itself on fire by hell. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the same mouth we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who've been made in God's likeness. This should not be." Now this is what God's Word says.
God's been pretty clear here hasn't He? The way to see how godly you really are is to listen to your talk. And that's not just talking about spiritual talk. No sin could do as much damage as verbal sins. Like a forest fire; like deadly poison. Some of our most damaging trash talk takes place, of course, when we're angry or we feel attacked. That's when we dump all the garbage all over the other person. Like, excuse me, verbal vomit. It's that disgusting. It's that repulsive. It's that unacceptable.
And like that woman on the plane, we say to ourselves, "Well, I feel better now. I told them! I put them in their place! I won this one! I had the last word!" You did not put them in their place. What you succeeded in doing was showing them what a miserable place you're in. You didn't win. You lost. You feel better, but look what you did to them. The people we hurt the most are often the ones we claim to love the most.
God says in Proverbs 12:18, "Reckless words pierce like a sword." I wonder how many deep wounds you may have left today, or in the last few weeks. If people bled physically every time we wounded them verbally, I wonder what kind of trail some of us would leave.
I guess it's time we listen to ourselves, and face the hypocrisy between our spiritual image and our private trash talk, and to go to the people we've hurt and to seek their forgiveness, and to make our mouth - our talk - a new frontier for the lordship of Jesus Christ. Maybe then what comes out of your mouth will not only make you feel better, but it will make them feel better too.