Our Words…Who’s Listening?

Today’s post was supposed to be my weekly update on Lent  – still no diet soda – which is a miracle for sure.

But last night and this morning, I have sat with a dear friend in a big ‘ol mess. I’ve listened carefully, murmured prayer after prayer as she described years of pain, and looked heavenward asking God to help her see grace and understanding in my heart, not judgment and condemnation.

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I understand suffering. I bet you do too.  I have suffered greatly over the past six or so years, and I’ve learned through the suffering to extend grace beyond measure, for in the midst of my suffering all I truly wanted was a listening ear and grace to keep going.

So this morning as I considered her suffering and my own…how my suffering has enabled me to feel her pain to the depths of my soul…God reminded me that we’re ALL sinners in need of a Savior.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. Romans 3: 23-24 The Message

Me, my friend, you – we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.  We. Can’t. Do. It.  And, out of sheer generosity – a pure gift – God lifts us out of the mess we’re in whether we created it or have been an innocent bystander.  He places us in right standing with Himself, restoring us to where He always wanted us to be.

We all have baggage and messy pasts that can cause us to feel both guilt and shame – heaps of it.  But, he doesn’t want us living there amidst the rubble of broken hearts and promises…it’s for freedom He’s set us free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm,then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

He wants us to be free in Him. 

I want that for my friend.  I want that for you.  And while that work begins with Jesus – at the cross – the work continues with us and through us.

We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves.  And part of that love is watching how and when we spew our opinions, especially about hurtful, hot-button topics.

A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!  James 3: 5-10 The Message

Sometimes I am amazed at the insensitivity of loving, faithful Christ-followers to those who have sinned differently than they have sinned.  As if the sin of another is worse or more repulsive than their sin.

As believers in a risen Christ, we have to stop making blanket statements about others and sin. We have to stop throwing self-righteous opinions around when we don’t know who is listening. We are hurting people who have repented and are healing.  Our matter-of-fact words and disengaged hearts wound them again and again.   Our words confirm within them “I am a hopeless mess” and can often send them back into the shell that they were finally beginning to peek out of.

You might say…but I didn’t know. I didn’t know her husband had cheated three years ago.  I didn’t know she’d had an abortion as a teenager.  I didn’t know she was abused as a child.  I just didn’t know.

I “didn’t know” just yesterday.  Before I knew my friend’s secret, I had made a sweeping comment – during a discussion about the Bible of all things – about her sin.  I didn’t know what I’d said because I didn’t know her story.

No, I didn’t know and you don’t know often.  And that’s my point.  We should always speak boldly for Christ, standing up for his will and ways.  We must confront sin in love.  There are consequences to sin and we must live with and in those.

But we must, must, must speak in love and grace always.  Angry words…all encompassing generalizations…self-righteous ideals – these hurt people.

Deeply.

Today I am hurting for a friend – and maybe a bit for myself- for all the times words empty of grace were spoken – not pointed at me, but stabbing me like a knife, highlighting my situation, my sin, and the sin of those I loved.

Yes, we’re human and make mistakes. I get all of that.  I truly do.  I am simply praying, asking, begging you to consider who might be listening when you decide to stand up on your soap box and proclaim “right” for everyone. While you may indeed be “right,” the way in which we convey our hearts and convictions makes all the difference to a hurting heart.

Please honor others always, speaking the truth in love with heaps of grace and mercy.  Because they will know we are Christians by our love…

34 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13: 34-35

Comments

  1. Mariah cook says:

    What a great reminder! Thank you for sharing! I have been on both sides of this and I am always struggling with my darn tongue! I am thankful that I now know that I can at least ask for forgiveness and move on from my sin. It is still a struggle because I want to hold on to it and keep torturing myself with what I should have done or said differently but that is not what God wants for me.

    • Mariah…I too always struggle in this area. But as I’ve seen and felt the hurt inflicted by senseless comments, I am praying more and more for God to make me aware. For Him to hold my tongue when my words are about to hurt so I can lift myself up. Dont’ torture yourself; He certainly doesn’t want that for you. But, he does want you to be reflective, noticing and repenting when you hurt others. Prayers to you!

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