Wise words from a wise Soul: take two

Do you ever think about the impact that your words can make on someone – for the good and for the bad? Our topic this week in Becoming A Woman Who Loves was “Loving Words” and, of course, it really hit home. I actually wrote a little about this topic a few months ago and it was neat to revisit all that material… it seems like I so easily forget how important this topic is and need these constant reminders to keep me on track and truly thinking about the way I say things to other people. Is this topic… Important? Yes. Hard? Definitely. Essential? Of course.

Preventing harmful words…

We’re actually really lucky… He has given us so much helpful advice on how to not use our words as a harmful weapon toward others. They can so easily be weapons and we need to keep them in check as to not allow them to wrongly harm others. The book of Proverbs is good at giving us little tid bits of info that shed light on the differences between fools and wise men and how each handle their words. Take a look at the following verses and try to catch the common theme:

  • “When words are many, sin is not absent, be he who holds his tongue is wise” Proverbs 10:19
  • “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” Proverbs 11:13
  • “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Proverbs 15:4
  • “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” Proverbs 15:28
  • “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” Proverbs 18:13
  • “Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29:20

If you’re familiar with Proverbs at all, being labeled as a “fool” is just about the worst thing ever. To be considered more hopeless than a fool?… that means that God means business when He talks about this topic. Our words are SO important… the words that we speak are the overflow of our heart’s thoughts and feelings. If you have any question as to what God thinks about this topic, go read Matthew 13:33-37. See it now? Yeeeah. I know that this next quote may come off a little harsh, but think about the truths that lie within it…

“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Amy Carmichael

Some things to omit…

God gives us some fairly clear guidelines when it comes to unwholesome speech. I like to look at this as a good thing… once again, He’s giving us the tools to succeed! It may be incredibly hard, but His guidelines are meant for His/our/others edification. Read these verses and see how the “impossible” isn’t quite so impossible:

  • “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31
  • “Do everything without grumbling or arguing” Philippians 2:14
  • “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Titus 3:1-2
  • “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12
  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Admonishment is important…

We must correct our brothers and sisters in Christ. And this isn’t a bad thing… this is how we grow! But, we must also learn to do this in a loving manner. That’s the hard part of the whole thing, I think. Of course we love our bro’s and sis’s to pieces, but our words don’t always come out quite right… ohmygoodness, trust me, I know! I’m so bad with this! 😉 God also gives us encouragement in the scriptures about this topic, though… He knows how important admonishing one another in wisdom is (He created things that way) and He does a great job at reminding us that it’s very important to a health Body. The following verses show how admonishment can benefit us. I feel like I’m missing a lot of other good ones, so please comment and add them! 🙂

  • “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:14-16
  • “Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you.” Proverbs 9:8
  • “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27:5-6
  • “So watch yourselves.’If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.'” Luke 17:3-4
  • “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16

“The best confronters are usually people who would prefer not to have to talk about their sin but will do so out of obedience to God and love for others. If you believe that the Bible contains authoritative instruction from God, and if you have a genuine love for God and for your brother, you will not shirk your responsibility to confront that brother in appropriate ways to help keep his life in line with God’s standards.” Ken Sande

Speaking in love…

We are capable of speaking to one another in a loving manner. God gave us the means, Christ encouraged us to do so, and Paul believed in our abilities (Romans 15:14)… we can do it. You just have to try! You must be mindful of your thoughts and words – respecting others as His children and people who are prone to folly just as you are. The following verses also offer up some wise words from a wise Soul:

  • “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:16-17
  • “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:17-18

As James stated, “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:10). This week, maybe try to (1) hold your breath in order to think about the ramifications that your words may have, (2) use wisdom when responding to someone, and (3) remember that your words are meant to spread blessings and admonish the fellow believer – not hurt or mislead him or her… our words are a direct way to share love with someone, so seize that opportunity and love with all you’ve got!

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. Out of a heart that is perfect towards God, in which the love of God is shed abroad, in which Christ dwelleth, the tongue will bring forth words of truth and uprightness, of love and gentleness, full of beauty and of blessing. God wills it. God works it. Let us claim it.” Andrew Murray

Hope this helped someone else, too. 🙂

Christina

Hug it out

Life can be so surprising sometimes. This past week has been wonderful in so many ways… the beginning of a relationship and an unforeseen step in the reconciliation of another. And guess what the topic of my Study lesson was this week… you betcha, reconciliation. He is too funny sometimes – I think He likes playing with me like this and watching me laugh/praise Him for seeing His awesome hand working in my life. 😉

No lie, this week’s study was on reconciliation. And, no lie, I laughed. 🙂 I had always known that reconciliation was important to the Body, but I don’t think I realized just how important it really is to Him and us. I also think I missed a huge parallel in the Bible concerning it. That being said, let’s get cookin’…

I feel like we’ve all been taught that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was an atoning act to reconcile God and man. How many times have you heard that? Lots. How many times have you actually thought about what it means? Probably not as many. Take a moment to read 2 Corinthians 5:17-21… notice the second part of verse 19; “And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Think about that for a minute… He has shown us reconciliation. He demonstrated it at calvary. Not only did Christ exemplify love in so many ways that day, but He also showed us how important reconciliation is… how difficult (and painful) the act can be and how vital it is to the relationship that it saves. I never thought about it like that before… I never saw beyond the theoretical theme of reconciliation acted out by Christ on the cross. Reconciliation was the whole point. The act of reconciliation is important – much more important than I ever imagined. Loving means reconciling. It’s not something that’s a nice gesture or an option – it’s a necessity and required within the relationships that make up the Body. Kinda wonderful now that I think about it (and kinda sad that I never saw it like this before, haha). 🙂

I have lots and lots of verses on reconciliation – the kind that make you feel silly for ever thinking that the act is an option. It may take up a lot of space, but I think it’s definitely worth it to write out/read these verses. Take a moment and read them with an open mind…

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” Philippians 2:1-3

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

“But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” Matthew 5:22-24

“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6:1-5

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.  For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.'” 1 Peter 3:8-12

Did you notice that each of these verses require action? Once again, forgiveness isn’t a feeling – it’s a decision. And, the more I think about it, the more I’m prone to think that reconciliation is actually the second part of forgiveness. The two go hand-in-hand in God’s book. By reconciling relationships, you’re acting out that forgiveness. It’s just as important as the forgiving part, and, just as hard to do sometimes. Maybe even harder. But you can do it…

“Love works wisely and gently in a soul where he wills it, powerfully extinguishing short temper, envy, and all passions of anger and self-pity, bringing into the soul in their place the virtues of patience, mildness, peaceability, and warmth toward one’s fellow Christians.” Walter Hilton

I found Psalm 133 and I just love it. In true fashion, David is pouring out lyrics from his heart that speak the irrevocable truths of God. Read it. You’ll like it! 🙂

My dare to you this week… take a leap of faith with this one. Don’t just forgive, but also act out that forgiveness through reconciliation. When you see the broken be healed, it’s a beautiful thing and you can’t help but see His power and purpose… 🙂

“Therefore, spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influences, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him. It will respect the line that has been drawn between him and us by Christ, and it will find full fellowship with him in the Christ who alone binds us together.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Eating a KitKat and excited to see a certain polar bear this weekend ;),

Christina

H-O-K-I-E-S, HOKIES!!!

I’ve gotta post this…

I missed my first Thursday night game in four years… wish that I could have been there to watch this first hand. Thank goodness for ESPN! I was cheering nice and loud in my orange and maroon and not doing my schoolwork… almost felt normal – like I was an undergrad again in Blacksburg with all my pals. 😉 I MISS YOU, VIRGINIA TECH!!!

Forgiveness where it is due (and undue)

Here comes an important, and difficult!, topic… forgiveness. Moving along in Becoming A Woman Who Loves by Cynthia Heald, our study this week was focused on the forgiving nature of love. As Heald states, “Forgiveness is rarely easy, but it is always right.” Read on and discover what I’m learning? K, let’s get started. 🙂

All of the soon-to-be info is based on Ephesians 4:32…

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

If you read Isaiah 53 you will find the prophet Isaiah’s description of the coming Christ – our humble, atoning savior and God’s son. In these verses you will find a profile of what forgiveness truly looks like… the perfect sacrificing itself for the redemption of the imperfect… the covering of atoning blood and remembering of sins no more. It is a true expression of love itself and it is a completely atoning act – no takebacks. He is the forgiver, healer, redeemer, crowner, satisfier, and restorer (Psalm 103:1-5). His love is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, abounding, not accusatory, and undeserving… it reaches as high as the heavens and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:8-13). To those who fear Him and obey his commands – to those whom He knows are made of dust and prone to folly – He gives grace and compassion (Psalm 103:14-22). He forgives. SO happy about that. 😉 Let you, His angels, praise Him for His kindness!

Next stop on the forgiveness train… us. It’s wonderful that He forgives, but (guess what) this means that we must also forgive. Yikes… hard to do? You bet. Won’t lie, I’m not too good at it. But, remember this… He does it (Isaiah 43:25). Who are we to not do it?

“The person who accepts forgiveness becomes deeply aware of his own weakness and need. Pride is ruled out as we take our place as supplicants before the Lord. This basic attitude releases us from our tendency to become angry with, or judgemental of, others… [We] are freed to respond as God does, with loving concern and forgiveness. It isn’t that God will not forgive the unforgiving. It is simply that the unforgiving lack the humble attitude that both permits them to accept forgiveness and frees them to extend forgiveness.” Lawrence O. Richards

Richards brings up a good point… knowing God’s forgiveness enables us to forgive others. It gives us the right frame of mind to view the situation. I read a book by Joshua Harris one summer (Boy Meets Girl) and I remember him saying something that has left a large impression on my life: Forgiveness is not a feeling… it is the promise to never recant the wrongdoings of another person. It is also not done for the other person… it is done for you. Heald also touched on this by stating, “Forgiveness does not mean that the perpetrator goes free; it means that the forgiver is free and that God will justly deal with those who have caused pain.” This is the hardest part of forgiveness for me, I think. Knowing that someone hurt me and isn’t hurting themselves because of what they did to me. It’s so sad to say, but I want them to feel at least a little bit of the pain that they caused or, at least, know that they caused me pain. Perhaps I feel as though my unforgiveness is a way to keep them in perpetual pain… a really bad way to invoke revenge! 😉 God constantly reminds us that we must forgive others – whether they deserve it or not – for it His command and our own forgiveness depends on it (Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:21-35, Luke 17:3). Seventy times seven. Just like He did and does.

“Given the reality of sin, love and forgiveness are inextricably bound together. God is continually, literally, second-by-second covering our sin under His son’s blood and forgiving us our sins. God cannot love us unless He forgives us and cannot forgive us without a commitment to love us. Love and forgiveness are equally bound together in all human relationships. I cannot hope to ever love someone unless I am committed to forgive him. I cannot hope to ever forgive him – that is, truly forgive him – unless I know the rich, incomprehensible joy of being forgiven.” Dan Allender

Here’s my dare to you… have you really forgiven those who have wronged you? Have you tried your darndest to live out Romans 12:17-21? I can definitely think of someone in particular that I haven’t fully forgiven and, thusly, loved. Lots and lots of people, actually! If you think you have “forgiven”, read this next quote and then reconsider your “forgiveness”…

“I sometimes hear people say, ‘I forgive him – I just don’t want to have anything to do with him again.’ This statement always makes me think of the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, ‘forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors’ (Matthew 6:12). Therefore, I will often respond to this kind of statement by asking, ‘What would happen if God forgave you in exactly the same way you are forgiving this other person? To put it another way, how would you feel if you had just confessed your sin to the Lord and then heard his voice saying, ‘I forgive you – I just don’t want to have anything to do with you again’?’ Most people quickly agree that they wouldn’t feel the least bit forgiven. As Christians, we cannot overlook the direct relationship between God’s forgiveness and our forgiveness.” Ken Sande

Still feel like you’ve truly forgiven that person? Yeah, me too…

God’s forgiveness of our sins is something that I have not even begun to truly wrap my mind around (nor will I probably ever), but it is something that I trust is real. In light of this, let us continue to press on toward the goal and pursue righteousness through faith (Philippians 3) and forgive others. Justly or unjustly. Are you with me? Amen. 🙂

Praise the Lord, O my soul… Lamentations 3:22-33,

Christina