Jump Start # 2258
Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
My wife and I both love books. I lean toward historical, biographical and religious books. For her, it’s children’s books. We have a mountain of grandchildren now and so we have been collecting all kinds of children’s books. She gives children’s books away as presents. I used to read nearly every night to my kids when they were little. One series of books that I have been introduced to recently is the Lama, Lama books. The titles all rhyme and the story features lamas. The book this season was “Lama, Lama, holiday drama.” The lama kids were caught up in all sorts of holiday drama.
I wish there was another version of that book. I’d like to see, “Lama, lama, church drama,” because there certainly seems to be a lot of that going around these days. Hurt feelings. Misunderstandings. Mad at one another. Walking away from others without talking. Suspicion. Accusing. Blaming innocent people for things others have done.
It’s the getting everyone along and fitting in and taken care of that can be some of the greatest challenges for a church. What you do for one, isn’t the right thing for the other. With some, you nearly have to bust a board over their head to get their attention. For others, slightly raising your voice and they go into orbit and are ready to quit. Lama, lama, all this church drama!
Our verse helps today. What we say matters. How we say things matter. Believing you can say anything, no matter how cruel or hurtful it may be, and then hide behind, “Well, I just told him the truth” isn’t good. No. You did more than that. You nearly killed him. The passage today says, death is in the power of the tongue. You can kill someone’s hope, spirit and enthusiasm with the very choice of words you use. You killed them. Our verse also says “life is in the power of the tongue.” Hope, optimism, life, chance, encouragement, love, forgiveness—those are all within reach with the proper words.
Here are a few things I’ve learned:
First, some people are just going to say anything. They are going to speak their minds. No filters. No consideration of the circumstances or the location. No thought to how those words may be received. Out it comes and once they have spoken what they want, they are done. People can ask the most personal, none-of-your-business questions. They can rip you up one side and then down the other. They can be insensitive, indifferent and uncaring to you and your family. People say things that they shouldn’t. That hasn’t changed with time. That’s not new to this generation and it didn’t die with the last generation. Our verse reminds us that some speak the words of death. Why? Who knows. Should they? No. But, they are going to do it anyway. Few, understand that what comes out of our heart is something that we will be judged for. We can’t destroy someone with our words and expect that God doesn’t notice. How we treat one another is a reflection of how God will treat us. You can’t be right with God and wrong with your fellow man, especially your brother or sister in Christ.
People are going to say things. They are going to tell you what they think you need to do. They are going to tell you where you ought to eat, vacation, buy a house, kind of pet you need to have and all sorts of things. When you do something that wasn’t on their list, you’ll hear about it. They will tell you what a mistake you made. They will tell you horror stories about others who made dumb choices, as they believe you have. Some will drop will verbal bombs that are just powerful enough to ruin your day. Mean things. Hateful things. Cruel things. Little comments, just loud enough for you to hear. They hurt. They create drama. How do I know these things? I’ve had missiles launched my direction for a long time. Stuff about my preaching, my family, where I live, how I dress, what I read, what I ought to be doing. The list is a mile long. It’s enough to stay in bed, with the covers pulled over your head. It’s all it takes for a first class drama.
Second, you have to let things go. That’s the secret. In a perfect world, folks wouldn’t say things that they shouldn’t. But this world isn’t perfect. Things will be said. Now, once they are out there, then it becomes my choice as to what I do with it. Do I build drama and make a big mess of these things? Do I fire more hurtful words back? Do I tell my little circle of friends how I am being mistreated? Do I throw logs upon the fires of drama? Or, like Jesus when things were said to Him, do I not reply back. I know the truth. God knows the truth. I can feel compelled to tell others and defend myself, or I can just let it go. That’s hard. Our blood boils when someone says mean things about us. We feel that we have to get even, get back or at least do something. It’s at that point that the curtain rises and the drama begins. We can sing the Disney Frozen song, “Let it go,” but we certainly have a hard time actually doing that. We store those words in our hearts. We remember. We distance ourselves from “those people.” And, the drama builds. We watch them with a critical eye. One wrong step and we have them. Our radar gun is always pointed at them. If there are get togethers, we find out in advance if our drama queens are going to be there. If so, we won’t. And, the drama continues.
How do you kill church drama? Don’t be a part of it. People will say things they shouldn’t. Let it go. Don’t hold it against them. Don’t be so critical and stop expecting everyone else to be perfect, you are not. Kill the drama. Realize drama may sell books, make great plots for TV shows, but it’s no way for Christians to act. Love all. Forgive all. Include all. Help all.
And, finally, we must watch what we say. You don’t have to express your opinion upon everything you see. You do not have to attend every argument that you are invited to. Someone walks in Sunday morning with pink hair. Keep a lid on your thoughts. Here comes someone late, again. Be careful. Here comes someone that the fashion police would arrest. Don’t say it!
Solomon says there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. This doesn’t mean turning a blind eye to sinful and wrong things. But even there, help, don’t destroy. Encourage. But so much of the drama comes from commenting on who is dating who and who is sitting where and who is wearing what.
Somehow all the lamas work out their problems by the end of the book. They do, every time. Sure wish we could work out all of our drama by the end of services. Maybe we could, if we really worked at it.