Jump Start # 2008
Psalms 57:4 “My soul is among lions; I must lie among those who breathe forth fire; even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows and their tongue is a sharp sword.”
As the last year is reviewed and lists of top news stories are complied, near the top is found the expression, “Fake news.” Those words became a battle cry between the national administration and the news media. Fake news isn’t something new. Making false accusations and blaming the innocent is a tacit that Satan has used for a long time. Jesus was falsely accused. Joseph was accused and sent to prison for something he never did.
Our verse today, shows how David felt that he was surrounded by those who planned to hurt him. They breathe fire. Their teeth are like spears. Their tongue is a sharp sword. It wasn’t physical violence that David feared, but those cutting and harsh things that they were saying about him.
Mother’s words, “Stick and stones may break your bones, but words will never harm you,” is a cute saying, but we’ve learned that she wasn’t right. Words do hurt. Hurts can be sharp as a sword. For some, those mean and cruel things have stayed with us for a long, long time. A parent who, in anger, declares, “You can never do anything right,” is laying a foundation upon which that child may always believe. In school, he gets into trouble, knowing that, ‘he can’t do anything right.’ In a failed marriage, he gives up because he knows that ‘he can’t do anything right.’ His shattered self esteem takes him from job to job, always carrying with him the idea, ‘you can’t do anything right.’ And, sadly, for some, they will go to their grave believing, ‘you can’t do anything right.’
For others, it was more blunt, ‘you’re dumb.’ That has been something that they carried with them all of their life. Yet for others, it was the comparisons. ‘Why can’t you get good grades like your brother?’ Then, later in life, ‘why can’t you make money like your brother?’ Is it hard to figure out why jealousy and a poor relationship existed between the siblings.
Why do men speak with fire? Why aren’t they nice?
First, some don’t care. They are mean. They intend to hurt. They want to drive you away. Their weapon of choice is cruel words that are meant to cut, destroy and hurt you. They have no feelings. They have no conscience.
Second, some speak without thinking. They are upset and angry and they do not realize how cruel their words are, nor that they will be remembered for a lifetime. The slow to speak and quick to hear have been reversed. They don’t really mean what they said and often they will apologize later, but the damage has been done.
Third, some are so focused upon themselves that they don’t think about others. They say what they feel because it makes them feel better. They don’t care what ears hear what they say.
This is the culture we live in. Toxic co-workers. Mean neighbors. Cruel family members. And, too often, insensitive church members. They say things that should never be said. Their hearts are not in the right place. Our ears are what receive these mean things. Sometimes there is an agenda behind those mean things. They want you to quit your job and leave. They want you out of the family. They want you to move from the neighborhood. They want you to go to another church. They talk about you. They whisper behind your back. They gossip about you. They make your life uncomfortable. They spread fire with their tongues. Unlike children, we can’t run to a parent and make these folks stop.
What can be done? Is there any hope?
David, from our passage today, “cried to God” (Ps 57:3). He knew that God would help him (v. 4). That’s the first step. Take it to the Lord. Pray about it. Pray that there will be a change of hearts. Pray that the fires from the tongues cease. Pray that they will see what they are doing. Pray that you will be strong.
Next, do not engage in a war of words. Most times you cannot win that war and it will only make you feel worse. When those who do not play by the rules get in a mud slinging contest, the outcome will be very messy. They will sink to limits that you cannot go to. They will do things that are not proper for you to do. If you feel compelled to say something, do it one on one and in private. With some, whatever you say will be used against you and will feed further gossip.
Finally, be tough. Get some leather on your skin. If you must cry, do it at home where they can’t see you. Don’t allow them to win by crushing you. It may get so toxic that you must leave, but make that the last and final step, not the first. Running is easy. But once you’ve done that, you’ll find yourself running most of your life. They said things to Jesus. He did not reply. He left us an example to follow, not just in holiness but in suffering.
Sometimes it’s simply not worth it to say things in reply. The ears are not listening and the hearts are closed. It may make us feel better but in the end, little good will be accomplished. God knows. That’s the key. You are not alone. You have help from Heaven. Some day soon, these things will end.
Make sure our tongues are not sharp and spreading fire. Be careful what you say and how you say it. Think first. Glorify God with your mouth.
Much to think about as we head back to work and the “cheerful season” is over.