Here's a thought for you to start off this fine Saturday morning: What you speak will determine what kind of day it will be. Now I am not talking about new age thinking here or anything other than the Word of God. I want you to think about this for a moment: Our tongue will decide the direction of our day.
Yesterday was the semi-annual school car wash. It is s a fund raiser we have to end the school year and again to start off the new school year. It has several noble purposes, such as building school spirit, teaching team work but mostly it is for raising money. Unfortunately some people's attitude toward this important event leaves much to be desired. Considering it's vital nature to the school finances I would think that all the parents would be on board with it. It can also be a lot of fun so I would think our teens would make the most of it. Instead we hear tons of excuses so that it ends up being a small percentage of people doing all the work to benefit the majority of people. Sound familiar Church?
We had a choice yesterday. We could have stood around complaining about what we didn't have, such as more hands to help, or we could realize what we had and have fun with it. Often I have chosen the former, complaining about the deficiencies, my lack, or the lack of others. That is the choice many of us make, but all we end up with is a belly full of complaints, a great deal of bitterness, and a terrible time doing whatever it is that we are doing.
Yesterday we decided to realize what we have and had fun with it. I won't lie, there was a bit of complaining but for the most part we just got on with what needed to be done and ended up enjoying ourselves. Not everyone made that choice so that some of the teens ended up having a miserable time. However, the adults who concentrated on the task walked away at the end of the day tired but with a smile on our face and a song in our heart. Complaining only leads to bitterness but words of encouragement lead to joy and power to overcome. The Scriptures tell us:
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6)
Many of us can testify to the truth of this because we have experienced it; we have allowed our tongue to run unchecked. Often we speak from the overflow of our heart and Jesus told us that our Father judges our heart, so we need to keep our heart pure. Still, there is a difference between feeling something and speaking what we feel. We give life to whatever we speak and we can never take life away from it. We can apologize, seek forgiveness but we still can't kill the thing we brought into existence. As followers of Jesus the only thing we should be giving life to is love. Hatred and bitterness cannot co-exist with the Spirit of God in us, who produces forgiveness, mercy and grace:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:9-12)
This is so practical in its truth there is no getting around it, and it's simple. If you love your brother you cannot speak against him in bitterness. If you speak against him it reveals only the immaturity of your love and a lack of love for God. Often it means that we have been distracted so that our eyes are off of Jesus and on ourselves. Confess it; complaining happens when we concentrate on how one person's actions affect us. If we are not so concerned with ourselves we may understand our brother's needs better. This is a sign of maturity:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
There is never any excuse for complaining. That doesn't mean we can't address shortcomings in a positive and respectful manner. If you order a hamburger and they give you a hot dog it is not complaining to point out the mistake. If you order a medium steak and they bring you a raw one, it is not complaining to point out their error. In fact most places would be upset that you didn't tell them. They want to get it right. However, it is complaining to sit there mouthing off about it without giving them a chance to correct their mistake. If a brother or sister is failing in something there is nothing wrong with bringing this to their attention, in a kind and supportive manner. They may even thank you. It is not love to complain about it without giving them a chance to correct it. If they still do not correct it you need to let it go and allow the Spirit to bring conviction and teaching. You simply concentrate on remaining faithful to your tasks, not allowing anything to affect your heart for Jesus, keeping it pure so that only good things come from your mouth.
I could have summed all of this up in one phrase: Watch your mouth. What you feel will pass but what you speak will take on its own life. Don't allow complaining to become part of who you are. Praising and encouraging is a much better path to fun and laughter. In all you do stay positive and dependent on the Lord and you will be amazed at how attractive you suddenly become to everyone. As the children of God we are a blessed people so let's start living that way, enjoying the life we have been given. What you speak today will determine the direction of your day.