The AMI QT devotionals from Jan. 15-21 are provided by Cami King. Cami, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania and Gordon Conwell Seminary (M.Div.), is currently serving as a staff at Journey Community Church in Raleigh.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“THINGS BETTER LEFT UNSAID”
Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; 7 for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Years ago, I had a recurring dream of the most amazing song that I could never remember when I woke up. I’m still tempted to think that I have written the world’s greatest song, and I just can’t remember what it is! One journal told the story of a Doctor Holmes who took up an interest in ether (a chemical used as an anesthetic). After administering it to his patients many times, he decided to have his nurse administer it to him so he could better understand its affects. As he went under and found himself in a “dream-like state,” he became fully persuaded that he had “suddenly grasped the key to all the mysteries of the universe,” but once he awoke, he couldn’t remember what it was. So he decided to do it again, and this time, he had his nurse write down the thoughts that came to him. Again, this key to the universe’s mysteries dawned on him; he muttered it to his nurse who wrote it down. When the analgesic effects of ether wore off, Dr Holmes eagerly asked the nurse to read back to him what he’d said. The nurse read: “The entire universe is permeated with a strong odor of turpentine.” He was, to say the least, underwhelmed. I guess some thoughts in our dreams are better left unsaid (and probably also unsung!).
Joseph was a dreamer. And his dreams weren’t silly like the ones above. They were dreams from God. God had chosen Joseph to do something amazing and Joseph unwisely shared those dreams with his brothers. The text doesn’t give us Joseph’s motives in sharing, but if we put ourselves in his shoes, we can gather that they were malicious at worst or certainly unwise at best. Either way, we are reminded today to check our motives! What is our motivation for sharing even the good things God is doing in our lives? Are we seeking to encourage or brag? Is our desire to glorify God and share our lives with others or something more sinister? Whenever the latter is the case, it may be better to leave things unsaid.
Prayer: Lord, search me and know me—all of my thoughts and intentions. Help me to be aware of my motivations in the things I say to others. Convict me if I use words to tear others down or build myself up. Grant me wisdom as I speak. May what I say be life-giving to those who hear and glorying to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Numbers 2
Lunch Break Study
Read Proverbs 16:1-6: The intentions of the heart belong to a man, but the answer of the tongue comes from the Lord. 2 All a person’s ways seem right in his own opinion, but the Lord evaluates the motives. 3 Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 4 The Lord works everything for its own ends—even the wicked for the day of disaster. 5 The Lord abhors every arrogant person; rest assured that they will not go unpunished. 6 Through loyal love and truth iniquity is appeased; through fearing the Lord one avoids evil.
Questions to Consider
Proverbs reads differently than many other books in the Bible. It is a collection of short, wise sayings, as opposed to a longer teaching or narrative. Therefore, many Proverbs, while often thematically related to what comes before or after, stand on their own and can be received as a piece of sound advice. With this in mind:
- What can each of the Proverbs above teach us today as we think about interrogating our motives and being wise with our words? Spend some time reflecting on each of the six proverbs.
- Which of the proverbs above speaks most to you personally today? Why? How might God be speaking to you through this proverb?
- All of these Proverbs remind us to turn our attention to God and remember that God is both sovereign and good. When we think about evaluating our motives, we have to remember that we are completely dependent on God to point us to what is true and right. Each of these Proverbs can teach us something valuable. For example: Much like the well-known Proverbs 16:9 (“A person plans his course but the LORD directs his steps”), Proverbs 16:1 reminds us that even when we have faulty intentions, God is still present and at work, accomplishing the things He desires. He is Sovereign. This serves as both a warning and a comfort. Proverbs 16:2 warns us that we may not always see clearly, so we have to be sure to align what we think with what God thinks. We tend to get into trouble with our words when we try to establish ourselves (or make a name for ourselves), but if we commit our ways to the LORD, God will Himself establish us in the good things He has for us (Proverbs 16:3). And so on and so forth. (Spend reflecting on each Proverb above.)
- Spend some time in personal reflection.
… The tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. (James 3:5)
The book of James reminds us of the power of our words in chapter 3. While we can be more aware of our motives and intentions in the things we say, we cannot, on this side of heaven, have perfectly pure motives in everything. And although it’s nearly impossible to “tame our tongue” (James 3:8), we can surrender it to God by choosing to be watchful of the things we say and the effect our words have on the people around us.
Take some time this evening to go back through your day and the different conversations you had (at home, at work, etc.). How might some of your words have affected others? What were your motives in the things you said? Are there ways you can be more mindful and intentional with your words tomorrow? (e.g. Can you be more intentional to encourage and build up, not tear down? Or, can you be more aware of how other’s feel in what you say? Are there ways you can show greater kindness and grace in your words? Etc.) Spend some time reflecting on these things with God. Ask for God’s wisdom and guidance as you do.