I was so excited to be meeting my friend for lunch. Talking one-on-one is my best way to connect with people and this friend especially loves to share her journey of faith with me, something I totally enjoy.
We met at a small local restaurant, hugged our hellos, got our food and started right in. It was so fun! We talked on a wide range of topics ranging from a study we’re both in to God’s work in us, family issues and much more. You know the way good talk flows. I’m always thrilled to find someone who will engage with me in this way.
Time went by, the snow was falling outside and soon we needed to get ourselves safely home. Hugs and goodbyes and smiles were genuine and I went away having relished our time together.
But as I was driving away from that satisfying time, I felt a “nudge” in my spirit, giving me an “icky” feeling about some of the talk that had come out of my mouth. I had spoken some words about someone that were not edifying, not necessary, and not even kind.
In Matthew 12:34 Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” What’s worse is, just before that, Jesus calls the ones who speak this way, a brood of vipers! I know he was talking to the Pharisees, but at that moment, I felt like they were my closest companions. I was standing there with them believing that Jesus was not enough.
In my Sunday school class at church we have been talking about what it means to grow in our faith. I wonder how many times I have said, “God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” In that moment, as I drove my little red Prius toward home, I felt incredibly inadequate to make this right. One of the things I have preached long and hard about - loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves - I had been unable to find the self-control to actually do.
So, I prayed and asked forgiveness from God and I talked to my friend and asked for her forgiveness as well.
When I woke this morning and found the beautiful white covering of freshly fallen snow, I remembered the promise of God in Isaiah where, when he was mad at the Israelites, he told them to “stop doing wrong!” And then he went on to assure them that if they were willing and obedient, their red sins would be made as clean and white as snow. Which means he would not hold those sins against them.
Some of you might be thinking, Oh, Deane, quit being so hard on yourself! We all do a little of that, it’s not so bad! There are many worse things you could be doing.
Exactly. I’ve actually thought that so many times. But how does that hold up next to a holy God? I’m not reflecting much holiness while actively doing something I know is wrong. I’m doing just the opposite.
I want to say I have learned my lesson and that the next time I am tempted to speak against someone, I will willingly and knowingly decline to open my mouth. But I know I’ll need to stop and ask for God’s help. This week I demonstrated my own inability.
Next time I really, really want to say something negative about someone, I plan to:
Stop and recognize what I’m about to say.
Immediately ask God to be my strength.
Be resolved to respect him and reflect him.
When we mess up, let’s rest in the power of confession and the beauty of the clean white snow of forgiveness.
How about you? Have you found yourself speaking words that are not good, kind or necessary? If so, let’s be resolved to stop. If you have found victory over this, what helps you to stop? I’d love to read about it in the comments.