Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LifeWay Explore the Bible: Guard Your Speech

I am always convicted by the passages in Proverbs dealing with the tongue. I certainly have had my share of times when I felt my words were not chosen wisely, and this usually resulted in damage to relationships, misunderstandings, and conflict. LifeWay Explore the Bible: Guard Your Speech provides a reminder to us all that our tongue is a tool that can be used for building up or tearing down.

Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
Proverbs 18:21, HCSB

I was reminded of this by an incident this past Sunday. As you know, Sunday's temperature was in a state of flux as we waited on yet another cold front to move through. It is always a challenge to get the temperature right in the building during this time of the season. As I was walking down the hall during worship, I had someone approach me regarding the temperature, complaining and going on about how he was going to just go home and not stay in "this building" if someone didn't do something about the heat. Apparently he was cold and didn't feel we were doing everything to accommodate him. Everyone in the hallway could have heard him complaining (fortunately there were only a few people gathered). Oh, how his tongue was destroying such a wonderful day for him and for others!

And then there was me. I was so tempted to give it right back to him. I had a choice to make. My personality is such that I am tempted to be sarcastic and put people in their places, but I also know that is not the way of grace. I constantly have to measure my words, or I will do as much harm with my response. I had to remind myself that this man might be feeling badly, he might have had a tragedy in his life over the weekend, or he might just be like that. Whatever the case, I couldn't and can't justify a poor response just because someone else isn't nice. That is not the way living wisely works. I had to measure my response based on my love for the Lord.

I don't always choose my words or reactions wisely, but in this case I felt I did. Every day we all face situations in which our tongues can build up or tear down relationships, escalate problems or conflict, or close doors to opportunities. We can't excuse our speech or blame it on our personalities or circumstances. We all are accountable to the Lord for what and how we say things. I pray that our study this week will remind you and your group of the importance of using speech wisely.

This study also begins an extended unit on applying wisdom in a wide variety of areas. I suggest you review all eight sessions to avoid overlapping as you teach.

TARGET: Your goal is to help adults guard their speech so that it is helpful, not hurtful.


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