I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. ~Jesus, (John 8:34-36)
Thank you, Jesus, for telling us the truth - the truth that we're worse off than we ever imagined, but that your grace is greater than we ever imagined!
For we were dead in our transgressions, BUT GOD who is rich in mercy, has made us alive with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5, paraphrase
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. BUT NOW he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Colossians 1:21-22
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ALL THIS IS FROM GOD, who reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19a
For the last while, we've been talking sin and talking it in the context of the Good News ... the only context in which we can really look at our sin, admit it, and be freed from it. Like clay in the potter's hand, the Lord molds us in the here and now for eternity with Him, shaping us into what He intended for us in the first place by smoothing out the rough places, transforming our hearts from stone to flesh. In His hands, we are no longer shackled in slavery to sin, we serve a new and living Master who has plans for us! More on the plans toward the end of this series, though. For today, let's talk a little about our tongues.
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I talk a lot. Sometimes in a conversation, even I am thinking, why am I still talking? You know it's bad when the person talking thinks it's gone on long enough ... imagine the poor soul listening. The life of a verbal processor can be an embarrassing road. I often long to be like my husband who can sit in a room alone and think and actually make sense of his thoughts. And he married me. God bless him!
But, though we should be growing in both self-control and love for others as we walk with Jesus, talking a lot is not the theme for today. Our concern is the content of our speech. WHAT are we talking about?
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
Unwholesome talk can take on many forms: gossip, dirty jokes, impatient command-barking at our children, criticizing another, lying, grumbling, complaining, angry outbursts, etc. We're all guilty. You know how I know? Because the Bible, the Word, tells me so:
You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34
But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:18-19
In addition to these statements of Jesus', the gospels speak often of Him knowing what's going on in the hearts of those coming to Him, whether with impure motives or in faith. He knows our hearts are full of darkness and the nasty, rotten fruit is revealed through our speech. As I mentioned with anger and lust, there's no real thought that goes into having angry or lustful thoughts; they're just suddenly there - uninvited, but there none the less! Out of the overflow of the heart....
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Yet again, we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, asking Jesus to change our hearts. He is willing! The Spirit lives within to help us. "Good fruit resources" abound to fill up the space left behind when we, by God's grace, have plucked out a piece of rotten fruit from our hearts.
Check out this post from the annals of Life in the Valley and consider what you're "storing up" to God's glory, that streams of living water might flow from you! And, hey, why not give the devil a little kick in the shins TODAY by making a point to intentionally say some "building up" things to folks you encounter: the grocery clerk, your spouse, a co-worker, a friend, your child, your roommate, or a complete stranger.
This is Part 18 of a month-long series you can learn more about by starting with Day 1 here. There are many others doing super cool series this month as well, perhaps you'd like to see the list?