REPOSTToday’s AMI QT blog, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on March 9, 2015. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Positive Spiritual Growth”
1 Samuel 14:24-30 (NIV)
Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, “Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!” So none of the troops tasted food. 25 The entire army entered the woods, and there was honey on the ground. 26 When they went into the woods, they saw the honey oozing out; yet no one put his hand to his mouth, because they feared the oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened. 28 Then one of the soldiers told him, “Your father bound the army under a strict oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food today!’ That is why the men are faint.” 29 Jonathan said, “My father has made trouble for the country. See how my eyes brightened when I tasted a little of this honey. 30 How much better it would have been if the men had eaten today some of the plunder they took from their enemies. Would not the slaughter of the Philistines have been even greater?”
When we think about growing in godliness, there are many factors that we can attribute to positive spiritual growth. We think about dedication to reading God’s word, faithfulness in prayer, serving, attending small group, and the list goes on. But one important thing that we often neglect in our pursuit of godliness is watching how we speak. With the exception of the heart and the mind, the tongue is probably the most sinful part of the body. Think of all the sin that comes out of our mouths: lying, slandering, gossip, put downs, cursing, boasting, just to mention a few.
From this story, we can add to that long list, the sin of making rash vows. Saul was an impatient man, and that lack of prudence can be seen in the words that spill out of his mouth with damaging effects. In the end, his oath becomes a curse on his own son. So often, we underestimate how much our words impact the lives of other people. Our words have incredible power, and a misspoken vow, an untimely oath, a passing curse, or even a flippant promise can cause great hurt and damage. How many families, friendships, and congregations have been undone by thoughtless words?
Personally, I didn’t realize how much my speech affected others until my son, Jeremiah, started speaking. When he was just a toddler learning how to talk, we were at home playing with his toys. But when one of them broke, he looked at me, looked at the toy, and then he said, “What a piece of crap!” Now, this might be a humorous example, but it revealed to me how much my words impact what my children say and believe. As we get older, we might think that our words don’t impact people very much; but personally, I believe our words carry more weight with age. If a child says something hurtful, it is easy to dismiss, but when an adult or someone in power misspeaks, it can cause a great deal of pain. Because our words can make such an impact, the Bible is clear that we should watch every word and that all our conversations should be seasoned with grace.
Prayer: Lord, we are a people with unclean lips and prone to hurt one another with the things we say. Help us to grow in this particular area so that our words build others up instead of tearing them down. Reveal to us the sin that comes from our mouths and leads us into repentance. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 1
Lunch Break Study
Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Questions to Consider
- What is the importance of saying things at the right time and place?
- Who is ultimately grieved by our corrupt talk?
- How can we put away the clamor, slander, and malice that pollute our speech?
- Even words that are good in themselves can be injurious when spoken in the wrong circumstance or in the wrong moment. The apostle Paul reminds us that our words should fit the occasion and the person. It takes a great deal of discernment to speak in a way that builds others up consistently.
- In the end, our words prove most painful to the Spirit of God. As much as we may hurt the intended recipient of our sinful dialogue, it is ultimately God that grieves over our misspoken words
- Perhaps, the most effective way to clean up the elements of sin in our speech is to remember to be kind to one another and to have a tender heart for those whom you are speaking with.
Is there something you said today that was rash, hurtful, or downright mean? When was the last time you evaluated the content of your speech and confessed them before the Lord? Like the prophet Isaiah, ask the Lord to purify your lips.