ANGER OVER THE CAR REPAIR
My friend was involved in a conversation with a man who was very angry over the poor service he was subjected to while getting his car repaired.
As he listened, the thought occurred to him that he should stimulate the angry man to love that mechanic. Surely he would be better off if he could get rid of that anger.
But, how do you proceed without a chance to think it over first?
A statement made by Jesus occurred to my friend, so he decided to give it a try.
“It’s a pity to let a mechanic spoil your day. He isn’t even here, yet his poor performance is bothering you. Your attitude surely isn’t affecting him any. He’s on the other side of town. Listen to a statement that Jesus made:
(God)…causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).”
“Sure, you got a bad deal. Why don’t you just forgive him, and ask God to give you love for him? It would change your whole day.”
The man surprised my friend by saying:
“You’re right. I’ll do it. How stupid of me to allow this to spoil my day.”
Instead of an angry response, the man appreciated the tip.
A HELPFUL SUGGESTION
This incident occurred at a banquet. I was the speaker, seated beside the pastor. It was a family-style banquet, so everyone helped himself. I noted the huge quantity of food he had heaped on his plate. It amazed me to see him take a second helping as large as the first.
He noticed I was aware of what he was doing, and leaned over toward me and said:
“I’m a compulsive eater.”
In my mind, I was wondering how to make a stimulating, helpful reply, so I gave it a try.
“There is a better word for it,” I said, “and the word is gluttony.”
Well, my words did stimulate him. They shocked him.
A year later, I was invited to speak in the same church at the same banquet. What a surprise! The pastor was slimmed down, and was not a bit overweight.
His wife told me that my words indeed challenged him. He even looked up the word “gluttony” in the Greek. He decided that his eating habits were a stumbling block to his people and were not pleasing to God.
But he surprised me by saying:
“You are heavier than you were a year ago.”
EATING MY OWN WORDS
“Yes,” I explained, “speaking at so many banquets, luncheons, and breakfasts makes it difficult to watch what you eat.”
“There is a better word for it,” he replied gleefully. “It’s called gluttony.”
He gave my little speech right back into my teeth. We have become good friends. We stimulate each other. It’s a good relationship. Whenever I head toward his part of the country, I am reminded of how we helped each other.
To stimulate, reprove, rebuke, exhort, and instruct one another is to help one another. It’s a personally rewarding experience to purpose in your heart to be a positive influence with your words. In writing to Timothy, Paul says:
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 1:13).
The positive side of using words as indicated in the Bible involves pleasant, righteous, soothing, gentle, kindly words: a soft answer, wholesome, stimulating, reproving, rebuking, exhorting words; with simplicity and godly sincerity.
So, along with David the psalmist, a good objective for anyone can be as he stated it:
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14).
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
Who is the man who desires life, and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil…and do good, seek peace, and pursue it (Psalm 34:12-14).
SOME TIPS FOR RESTORING FELLOWSHIP
1. When you are aware that someone has something against you, it’s your move. Jesus says:
If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering (Matthew 5:23-24).
2. When you have something against someone else, it’s your move. Jesus says again:
If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer (Matthew 18:15-17).
What is Jesus saying? Simply that whether you have something against someone, or someone has something against you…either way it’s your move to go to that person and go out of your way to attempt a reconciliation.
It is not enough to attempt reconciliation if you go with a hostile spirit. The apostle Paul adds another touch:
But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
The goal, then, is not only reconciliation, but also helping each other grow up. You build your own self-respect or self-love as you speak to people rather than about them.
Even if you accept the goals for your words as described in this chapter, be reminded of the problem facing you:
Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit; with his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him. Shall I not punish them for these things? (Jeremiah 9:8).
Your only hope is to turn to God for help. What He will do for you is described by Isaiah the prophet:
The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, he awakens My ear to listen as a disciple (lsaiah 50:4).
If you use the Bible as your guide for your choice of words, you are on the road to building up your self-respect and becoming indestructible.
1. Describe the effects you have seen your words cause, both positive and negative.
2. What are some of the things the Bible says about our tongues and our speech?
3. Your own sense of self-respect depends in part on your knowledge of how ______________________________________________________.
4. It’s a personally rewarding experience to purpose in your heart to be a ____________________________________ with your words.
5. We must use the ___________ as our guide for our choice of words.
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Continue on to Lesson 7.