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I ka ‘olelo no ke ola, i ka ‘olelo no ka make
Last week we hosted Hawaiian night at Amplify. I went all out and even learned some Hawaiian for the night. It means in speech there is life, in speech
there is death. Ancient Hawaiian’s believed that a kahuna ‘ana’ana, which we would call a witch doctor, could pray someone to death or counter another’s death prayer. The
saying tells the Hawaiians that words can either be a source for healing or destroying and so we need to be careful with our words.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.
Remember those words from the playground? Wouldn’t it be great if that saying were true? Just imagine, words bouncing off you like bullets off of Superman. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Words are a weapon that can damage us beyond belief. In fact Scripture says our words can be as sharp as swords, and as deadly as arrows (Psalm 64:3). The wrong word, spoken at the wrong time can cause a lifetime of hurt. I have witnessed firsthand the power of words. I’ve seen them ruin careers, split up families, cause division in churches and separate life long friends. And I am not alone, we have all seen the same. As Christians there are five powerful facts that we must realize and take to heart about words.
First we have to realize that careless words can bring hurt and destruction into the lives of all involved. In Proverbs 26:20-22 it compares gossip to kindling for a fire and food that brings nourishment. Take a moment and read that passage and think about those words. It’s saying words can quickly start a fire and that those words can grow in our lives. But even beyond this life we are accountable for the words we speak. Matthew 12:36 tells us that we will all give account for “every careless word they have spoken.” on the day of judgment. It’s not just our deeds, but our words that will echo in eternity.
Gossip and hurtful words pose another danger to a Christian. The second thing we must know is that words used inappropriately will harm our daily walk with God. To put it bluntly: how can we expect growth everyday in our relationship with God, who is love, when we speak unloving words about His creation. Check out Psalm 15:1-3. David is telling us what a person who walks and dwells with God is like. The NASB says “nor does evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend.”. Let’s not forget the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus taught us that we should show mercy, but even more than that He taught us that everyone is our neighbor, regardless of race, nationality, age, gender or anything else.
Thirdly, we must choose not to use hurtful words. That’s right folks, personal responsibility! The Holy Spirit is our guide and companion, gently nudging us, but He does not control our actions and speech. Ultimately it’s on us. In 1 Peter 3:10, Peter tells us “whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.” Got that? God will keep watch over your heart, you have to keep your tongue behind your teeth.
This is where it starts on a more positive note. The fourth item on the list has something in common with the third. They are not just things we should know, but actively do on a daily basis. And the fourth thing is that we must replace our careless, damaging words with positive and productive words. Since Jesus bought us back from death, shouldn’t our words speak life? Proverbs 12:18 says “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” All of us have uttered words we wish that we could snatch back out of the air. But there’s no magic net to catch them back. Our words must be uplifting and encouraging. Too many time we mask our cruel words under the guise of “correction”. Don’t believe me? Read Ephesians 4:29, thats in the Bible by the way, and none of us can deny the truth it holds. Take a minute before you move on. Ask yourself this question, is my speech helpful or harmful?
The fifth and final fact is flat-out awesome. God is our refuge against hurtful words. Psalm 31:20 says “in the shelter of Your presence You hide them from the intrigues of men, in Your dwelling You keep them safe from accusing tongues.” Our identity is found in Christ and not in the words and opinions of men. When we walk upright and holy lives, and guard our tongues against slander and gossip, God is our shelter and shield against the words of men. Did you see that personal responsibility thing again? God is our refuge, but He expects is to live a holy life.
To sum it up, if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.
Learning to trust Jesus is one of the hardest things to do in the Christian life. We often think that we need to be perfect, not because God expects it, but because we think our fellow Christians do. It often leads us to a place where we aren’t totally trusting in Jesus, where we substitute our will for His, or try to shoulder the problems of our world all on our own, when God tells us to lay our burdens on Him.
One of the best examples of total trust in Jesus can be found in Mary, sister of Lazarus. She put all her trust in Him. She would listen to His voice, cry before Him, and even sacrificed her dignity and glory to anoint Him.
Mary’s trust was grounded in listening to Jesus’ words. It was no accident that Mary experienced Jesus’ teachings.
Luke 10:39 (ESV)
“And she had a sister Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teachings.”
Whenever Jesus would stop at Lazarus’ home, Mary would take the time to sit at His feet and be taught alongside His disciples. No matter how busy the household was Mary would always find the time to spend with Him. How many of us are caught up in our day-to-day lives and don’t take the time that we need to listen.
Jesus said “Mary has chosen the good portion…” (v.42), it is getting harder and harder in this world for us to maintain the “good portion” in our lives. Our lives, myself not excluded, often resemble that of Lazarus’ other sister, Martha. We run around, we have important things we need to get done, but by not taking the time to listen we are settling for “good”, when God wants us to have “great”.
You know why so many Christian’s struggle in difficult times? Because we haven’t taken the time during the easier seasons of our life to listen to Jesus’ voice. And when the difficult seasons come, we don’t remember the sound of His voice. We don’t know the voice of the Lord, and the peace and hope that it brings, alludes us.
Mary took the time to listen. As she did, she learned what really mattered, and that in Jesus she was secure. When we do the same, we learn the same things. Sure there will be things in our lives we will have to sacrifice, goals we may not accomplish, but the peace, the hope, and the eternal blessing we receive by intentionally listening to Jesus’ voice far outweigh anything we lose in our short stay on this earth.
So few of us are really listening, especially to the Lord. If we want to develop trust in God, listening is required.
*This is part 1 of Trust Jesus, a 3 part series. Look for Trust Jesus: Troubles at the Feet tomorrow.