>From excess to destruction.

>I love this time after work and my workout when I just get to sit in the silence and decompress. I caved and turned on the air for the first time this season. After a humid 90* run with my sister’s boyfriend Tim (he’s an ex-Marine and will probably smoke me soon…), the last thing I wanted was to relax after a lukewarm shower in my 85* apartment. I’m not sure what it is about summer this time around, but I am loving the heat so far. Maybe it’s because I was anemically cold for the past seven months, or maybe it’s because I’m trying to prepare myself for Texas… who knows.

Anyway. I’ve been thinking about this blog since last night, and I started to hash it out over my commute to work this morning, title and all. I don’t know about you, but I’m human. I tend to open my mouth and speak, a lot. And as genes and personality have it, I have a big mouth.

My sister-in-law Anessa just posted a blog about words being able to cut like a knife. If I tallied up the words I said throughout the day, I would bet you at this point in time, the destruction would outweigh the construction. Criticism would outweigh encouragement.

Lately my mouth has run away with me. Many times, I praise people, but other times I talk about others and mask it behind a prayer request or a concern. I think we all have the potential to do this, but the fact that it’s such a widespread sin doesn’t make it any less of a sin. I know pretty much the second after I say or divulge something I shouldn’t have.. I feel guilty. But words are interesting; they’re not a too-expensive pair of shoes you can just take back to the store.

They stick around even if that person isn’t around to hear it. Our mouths are just reiterating what is already in our hearts, so we are revealing how we truly feel about that person. Sin is sin, and if there’s any blatant explanation about this particular one in the Bible, it’s in James.

We all slip up and say mean thingsWe all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. (3:2)

We have to recognize that the tongue drives our entire bodyWhen we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. (3:3) If we say something mean about someone, that means we actually feel that way about that person. Will we show love to them then? Probably not.

We cannot speak praise to the Lord and tear down others at the same timeWith the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (3:9-10) However, this is not to say that we shouldn’t stand up for or defend ourselves… but rather speak the truth in love.

We need God’s help to tame our tongues. but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (3:7) Jesus has already faced and CONQUERED every temptation that is thrown our way. We CAN be victorious over sin with Christ’s help.

I compare this to my love of sweets. It’s inevitable that I will want something sweet. It’s also inevitable that I will eat something sweet. But I either have to work it off, or not eat so much of it. It can be addicting, just like bad talk. It has to be a step-by-step process in which I made small decisions throughout the day that can lead to a big victory over a week’s time. 

I wish I could say that since I’ve become a Christian (ten years ago!), I don’t say hurtful things about people seemingly in the name of love, concern, prayer, or just because I felt like saying it. I wish I could say I have matured past that. I wish I could say that I haven’t given into others’ poor attitudes and tendencies to gossip. I wish I could say that I have discouraged others from taking part in this destructive way of life.

Breaking out of this habit might mean [are you ready for this?!] keeping my mouth shut when someone asks me a question about someone else with the intent of being nosy (bad words aren’t the only words that are bad). It might mean backing off of certain relationships that often tempt me to gossip. It might mean making my prayer requests at small group more vague. And get this: it will most definitely involve more prayer.

In conclusion, I can’t help but refer to the scene in Mean Girls about “word vomit”. We can either spend our time on this earth writing our own personal “Burn Book” and acting it out or we can actively show others Jesus through us and speak truth in love.

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