Friday, March 4, 2016

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I'll never forget the summer we heard the story about the moonshiner. We were on vacation and we'd just made some new friends, Bill and Darlene. They lived on this beautiful farm. But not always. When they first moved to the south, they lived in a fairly primitive cabin along a river.

Darlene shared that one of their neighbors was a classic moonshiner. He had invited them over for a dinner a number of times and Darlene said they finally ran out of excuses. When they arrived for the dinner, the moonshiner told Bill, "Go pick out what chicken you want for dinner out there on the front porch." Well, Bill did and the moonshiner shot it down dead right there. Then they all went inside and the moonshiner and his wife cleaned and prepared it right in front of their guests.

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. I decided I'd stay up late and I'd just sit here in my rocking chair. I'd see one and 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 "Verbal Overkill."

Wouldn't you say that the 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 I think. It's our word for today from the Word of God. It comes from Psalm 141:3, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips." Guard my mouth, Lord, watch my lips. 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." You ever had any of those reckless words? The problem is when we get angry or frustrated, we tend to start shooting verbally – sometimes at, shall we say, mice; things that don't really merit all that fire power?

Anger is one primary area in which we really tend to overkill. We fire away with killer sarcasm, or a killer put-down, or a killer line just to vent our frustration or to get our way or to win. We leave huge holes that are there long after the incident or the issues are remembered. Oh we may win a little, but we lose a lot with reckless, sword-like words.

Nagging – that's another form of verbal overkill especially when someone you love is doing something you don't like or they're doing something you're afraid will hurt them. Husbands get nagged, wives, children, parents; and nagging can become a way of life. We just keep shooting all the time until that person just becomes immune to our words, immune to our concerns. We're always firing at them.

That's why we need to learn to choose our battlegrounds. Don't fight every battle. Ask yourself, "Does this battle really, really matter?" Save your ammunition for the battles that really matter – parents especially. Man, we're noted for nagging about every little thing and then finding ourselves 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. I know I do. "Lord, guard my mouth. Watch my lips." Our angry words, our insensitive words, our nagging words are always trying to get out, and we've got 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.