To say I didn’t know it was coming would be a full-on lie. I did. The Holy Spirit had been at work for a while gently convicting me over my less-than loving use of my words to eviscerate another person. But I, like King David, thought I could just push it back and not deal with it.
Lo, what is that I hear? God’s tsk-tsk from heaven at my stubbornness and flat-out disobedience.
I sat at lunch chatting with two ladies from my Tuesday morning Bible study. One of them asked about some changes that had taken place in an organization to which I had belonged for several years. I had been in the organization long enough, and had been close enough to the person in charge to know the cause for the changes. I was also very close to several people who had been hurt by the situation. My heart had been one of those that had been hurt.
As I answered my friend’s question, I laid the blame squarely on one particular person. I told my friends some of the things this person had done, and how so many people had been hurt and left the organization. While I did not realize until later how deeply hurt and angry I was over the whole mess, my friends told me later that they recognized it immediately.
We finished lunch and I got in my car to go home. Y’all I felt like a Mack Truck of conviction from the Holy Spirit had hit me head-on. The realization that I had sinned horribly by allowing my hurt and anger to drive my words was overwhelming. I wish I could say this was a one-time event, but it was not. I had spoken in the same angry, hurt tone to other people on several occasions. I’m sure everyone who was unfortunate enough to enter into that particular topic of conversation with me felt like they had been vomited on. I was heart-broken at how I had compromised my testimony and caused others to look down on Jesus. Heart-broken at the pain I had caused others with my poison words!
I texted my two friends and confessed what I had done. I asked for their forgiveness and they lovingly granted it. I thought that would be the end of it. How wrong I was! The Holy Spirit made it crystal clear that it was time to deal with this sin of negative words. I had no idea how often I spoke them about all kinds of subjects in my daily life, but I was about to find out.
God prescribed a three-pronged method for doing away with poison words. I would use prayer, Scripture memory, and oh dear Gussie, accountability.
Prayer would be the easy part of this. Confession, both private and public, was the beginning, but also would be necessary several times over the next 30 days. Each time I allowed poison words to spew forth, I prayed and asked forgiveness. The Lord was faithful to forgive me and encourage my heart to get back in the game and turn over control of my heart and tongue to the Holy Spirit. Slowly my need for confession decreased because my spewing of negative words decreased.
For the Scripture memorization, the Lord led me to the book of James and used a neon highlighter to show me 4 verses that I was to memorize over the course of the next month.
James 3:8 ~ No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:9 ~ With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.
James 3:10 ~ From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.
James 5:9 ~ Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged.
Y’all, I knew those verses…had read them many times, but whew, the Word suddenly came alive in my heart! The more I repeated James 3:8, the more grieved I became over my negative words. My tongue truly was a restless evil, full of deadly poison. Me! A woman in ministry, for heaven’s sake. I had a tongue that eviscerated other people, even loved ones. And up till now I had not even felt one bit bad about it…well, maybe a little bit bad. Suddenly I understood what the apostle Paul meant when he lamented that he was the chief of sinners.
If you are someone who has been hurt by words that spilled from my mouth in the past, I may or may not even realize that I hurt you. I’m so very sorry and I hope you will accept my apology. I would welcome to opportunity to speak with you about the hurt I have caused. Please reach out to me.
What about you? Are you able to control your words or do they spew out like deadly poison on a regular basis? Don’t be too quick to answer. Really think about it. Are your words a blessing or a curse to other people?