About Me

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Bedford, Texas, United States
Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church in Bedford, Texas and former Professor of Old Testament. But mostly I am a husband of an amazing wife, father of gifted children, and servant of an AWESOME God.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Critical Spirit, but a Constrained Tongue

"but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poisons.(James 3:8, HCSB).

As I was considering what to write about this week, I went back and reread some of my previous posts. To my embarrassment, I noticed several typos and awkward constructions. I then started to think about all the papers I have graded over the course of my academic career and how many times on those papers I wrote the phrase, "awkward construction" and then proceeded to deduct points accordingly. I don't regret such grading, nor do I find my past activities hypocritical when I myself fall prey to such activity today - mistakes happen. But I do wonder, how many readers looked at those mistakes and thought "Geez, he should be able to do much better than that!" (readers, there is no need to reply on that point :-)). I also thought about how many times I had judged the quality of the person by the grammatical correctness of their speech, and it is to that issue that I feel led to speak.

I see children "correcting" each other about how a line in a movie really went or chastising each other over menial realities that don't really matter. I see adults with angry words about the idiocy of someone who just cut them off or critical of someone who wasn't as friendly as we thought they ought to be. It would seem that a critical spirit is part of the human condition. Indeed, it might be impossible, this side of heaven, to hold every thought captive that pops into our head about others. But I do believe there is a place in the process where we can take control, and that is before such thoughts are transformed into words and leave our mouths.

James says the tongue is "full of deadly poisons." This imagery is powerful about the need to control our tongue. Especially in light of the central image of the Church as the Body of Christ. Poison does not stay localized in a body. Once it has gained entrance, it spreads through the entire system, infecting and destroying as it goes. When we allow a critical thought or spirit to be transformed into a critical word, we have exponentially expanded the impact that such thoughts have on ourselves and all those who are part of the Body - We have poisoned the Body of Christ!

I have made it my goal to always consider my thoughts before speaking them. Sometimes this leads to awkward silence, and sometimes maybe even to awkward constructions. But I trust that such awkwardness will be more easily forgiven than the critical word that might have been spoken.

"He who sedulously attends, pointedly asks, calmly speaks, coolly answers and ceases when he has no more to say is in possession of some of the best requisites of man." - Johann Casper Lavater

My prayer is that I can be that kind of man!


Michelle B. said...

Wow, did I need to hear that today! Thank you!

Denyse said...

You didn't have to get so personal! At least you didn't call me out by name...

Randy said...

Not sure why the first post didn't work but.....thanks I needed that. It was like a shot but needed. I should try some of that "awkward silence" myself. Maybe that pause will make it easier to hold those thoughts captive and turn them back to Jesus.

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