Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
I just got done working through a 4-week devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss concerning our use of words, whether we bring life to others... or death. There is TREMENDOUS power in the tongue. (Praise God we only have one of them!)
As I was pondering the Scripture Nancy had me looking at, it struck me this morning that my use of words is much more involved than just what I say. I realized in a profound way that my choice of words is directly linked to what is in my heart. Unfortunately, I've had a rather unbalanced perspective on this subject.
The imbalance looks like this: I have been so focused on seeking forgiveness for the evil that crops up in my words and actions that I have been neglecting the other half of the equation: filling my heart and mind with God's Word, His truth, His knowledge and wisdom. Yes, I go to church. Yes, I read my Bible. Yes, I pray. Yes, I fellowship with other believers. But do I make a concerted, purposeful effort to replace sinful thoughts and words with the truth of God's Scripture? Shame on me, but... no.
Here's an example from my life:
Child #1 disobeys me for the umteenth bazillionth time and I get angry, spewing forth bitter words of chastisement and filth. I think to myself: "Now, that wasn't nice. I shouldn't have said and/or done that. See how I hurt his/her feelings?... Lord, I shouldn't have thought such nastiness about child #1. Nor should I have said such hurtful words. Will you please forgive me? Thanks, God, for Your mercy and grace." I've sought forgiveness from God. I seek forgiveness from child #1. And then I move on with life. Yes, seeking forgiveness from God and from the injured party(ies) is great and should be done, but it doesn't stop there. Sure, the offense has been forgiven, but it has to be replaced with something good, true, pure, and holy... such as:
"Whoever restrains his words has knowledge and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding." (Prov. 17:27)
"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body." (Prov. 16:24)
"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Prov. 12:18)
"Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." (Prov. 21:23)
"A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike; to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand." (Prov. 27:15-16)
"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." (Prov. 15:1)
What is in the heart WILL come out in our mouths. It's not enough to simply seek forgiveness for our words and actions. We must be replenishing and refueling our heart and mind with the truth from Scripture. Then, and only then, will a righteous, pure, holy, and honoring fragrance pour forth from our lives.
Lord, today, may I not just stop at seeking forgiveness from You for the sin I conduct in my life. May I make a purposeful effort to seek Your Word and Your truth, to fill my mind and my heart with Your wisdom. May my heart be so overflowing with knowledge, wisdom, and praise, that it spills out into my words and actions. I love You, God."