Life-Giving Fountains (a meditation on our words)

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain. ~Proverbs 10:11

When you read through Proverbs you will find many statements that contrast the words of the godly or the wise with the words of the unrighteous or the foolish. Why such an emphasis on words? Because words matter. They can build up and they can tear down. They can make someone’s day or they can ruin a person’s week (or worse).

word bubblesThe Bible speaks so much about the things we say because the tongue is notoriously hard for a person to control. James even went so far to call it “a fire, a world of unrighteousness…set on fire by hell” (James 3:6). Jesus said that our words reveal our hearts, “for out of the abundance of the heart [a person’s] mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

So, the question is: Are your words a life-giving fountain, encouraging and edifying others; or are they a bitter fountain that tears down?

We should remember that this question goes beyond our mouths. In today’s world we have so many different ways to communicate—blogs, emails, texts, Instagram, Facebook, etc.—what we type or post matters just as much as the words which roll from our tongues.

Since our words represent our hearts, the place to begin to confront any bitterness or hatred in our speech and to develop our words as life-giving fountains is on the level of the heart and mind. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Spend time each day dwelling on the One who is most true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent, and worthy of praise. Spend time in God’s word, meditating—thinking deeply on who God is and all that he has done for you through Jesus.

Spend time in prayer, laying out before God your weaknesses and temptations in this area. Ask him for his grace and strength to overcome the struggles against your tongue.

Spend time around other followers of Jesus who model speech that is a life-giving fountain. Let their words and actions be an encouragement to you so that you might grow in encouragement towards others. Conversely, consider the things in life that weigh you down and cause you to falter. Minimize what you need to minimize and cut out the things you need to cut out.

Finally, repent of and apologize for those times your words have cut other people down. If they were words spoken in private, deal with the issue in private; if they were words spoken publically or on social media, then deal with them there.

Focus your heart and mind on the life-giving grace and beauty of God, and with time your words will follow as they develop into a life-giving fountain for others.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Good Reads 10.28.15 (on: controlling the tongue, a Christian’s identity, SSA, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On keeping control over what we say: Taming the Tongue by Jeremy Wilson

Words are powerful. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword. And if you got to the bottom of every sword fight, you’d find most were fueled by words, too. Words remain. You can probably quote your favorite book, Bible verse, movie, and song. You can also probably quote the meanest and nicest things ever said to you… and maybe the meanest that you’ve ever said. Words can haunt. So, what is the Christian to do about the tongue? This tiny member of the body, packed with the power to lift up and lay low? Here are three keys from James 3 about taming the tongue. (click here to read more)

On the Christian’s identity in Jesus: You’re Not the Old You Anymore by Mark Altrogge

Many Christians, describe themselves this way: “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.” This is true, and good to remember. Some, genuinely seeking to be humble say, “I’m the worst of sinners,” referring to Paul’s statement in 1 TI 1:15 about being the foremost of sinners. When Paul said that he was referring to Christ’s mission to come into this world to save sinners, even someone like him who persecuted the church. But Paul didn’t mean that he continued to be the worst of sinners. That was in the past. It was good to remember in order to be grateful, but he didn’t continue to be the worst of sinners. After Christ saves us, though we still sin and must fight daily to put it to death, our PRIMARY IDENTITY is NOT sinners. (click here to read more)

On waiting for God to move in a situation: Five Things To Do When You’re Waiting on God by David Qaoud

Are you waiting? Not only are you not alone, but you’re also in good company. Maybe you’re married and waiting to have kids. Maybe you’re single and you desire a spouse. Or maybe you hate your job and you’re waiting to really start the career of your dreams. Whatever it is, you’re waiting. And you want to know what to do. Here’s at least 5 things. (click here to read more)

On hope for Christians struggling with same-sex attraction: Ten Empowering Truths for the Same-Sex Attracted Christian by Matt Moore

My drawings toward the same gender lingered after my conversion. However, the Holy Spirit has so softened my heart and enlightened my mind that I now believe what the Bible says – not what I say or a therapist says or what Oprah says – about my feelings. Homosexual desires . . . my homosexual desires . . . are not something God encourages me to embrace in the context of a monogamous relationship, but something he commands me to flee from no matter the context. Whether in drunken promiscuity or committed monogamy, homosexual behavior is a detestable evil – along with fornication, adultery, and every other form of sexual sin. (click here to read more)

On one lady’s journey to faith in Jesus: From the Baha’i Faith to Porn to Alpha to Jesus by Emily Armstrong

Even so, there’s so much in the Christian life that gives me joy. When our 5-year-old sees a piece of garbage in the street and declares, “I bet that person isn’t going to heaven” (true story), I remind her that access to heaven has nothing to do with being good and everything to do with God’s goodness. I know that when I pray, God hears me, because he responded to my prayer the night he saved me and has continued to provide for us through the years. I can see how much he loves me when I reflect on the experiences he has led me through, slowly, sometimes painfully shaping me into his image. And I no longer have to strive for perfection, because Christ is my perfection. Even though I don’t always like it, his grace is sufficient, and I would be foolish to disagree. (click here to read more)

Watch Your Mouth (a meditation on being slow to speak and quick to listen)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don’t get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. ~ James 1:19 (The Voice Translation)

We live in a fast paced world with fast paced communication. With a smart phone or computer we can share our thoughts with other people thousands of miles away in an instant. Through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and the likes we can make our voices known to an audience of hundreds if not thousands.

All the more that we need to heed the wisdom of James about words we speak (or type or Swype).

Everyone has an opinion but it seems we are more eager to share our thoughts than hear what others have to say. James tells us the opposite should be true. As followers of Jesus we deal in words each day. God speaks to us through words written thousands of years ago. When you read the Bible you are encountering the voice of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Someone once said (likely not actually Francis of Assisi), “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” While this captures the reality that the right words with the wrong actions accomplish little, it misses the boat: the gospel is words—it’s a message about Jesus. We cannot share the gospel without words.

So as followers of Jesus, words are important. Yet, still, we are to be careful with what we say and how we say it.

watch your mouthWhen something angers or upsets us we tend to respond with words of yelling or an angry text or a passive aggressive Facebook post. Yet, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). And in James 3 we read how the tongue is like a fire fueled by hell and difficult to control. This is why we need to think before we speak and ponder before we post; to be slow to anger, slow to speak.

Growing up your mother might have taught you the rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We learn that rhyme because we know, from experience, that words do hurt. So we attempt to create a self-defense against hurt caused by others. Words are powerful. The right words can build up while the wrong words can tear down with damage difficult to reverse.

Don’t let your words be a cause for someone else’s discouragement and pain. Don’t let your words tear other people down. Yes, sometimes a rebuke is necessary. Friends don’t let friends wallow in sin that results in ultimate hurt and pain (as all sin does). But even the word of God which rebukes us puts more emphasis on building us up. When Paul mentioned the effect of God’s word in a Christian’s life, he gave one negative: rebuke; but three positives: teaching, correction, and training in righteousness.

So commit yourself, with the help of the Holy Spirit within, to speak what is edifying. Be quick to listen—truly hear what others are saying and ponder the situation; be slow to speak—don’t be too fast about making your thoughts and opinions known, especially if you’re not fully aware of the situation; and be slow to anger—walk in the patient grace of God who is slow to anger with you, and extend such kindness to others.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.