by Pastor Tim Burt
Most people I know work hard, realizing that hard work not only feels good but also brings rewards. Proverbs 12:14 NIV says, “From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him.” This verse teaches us that the work of learning to speak the right words with the right heart and attitude is just as important as working hard with your hands or mind. When your emotions are running high and you’re upset and desire to erupt like a volcano, the strenuous labor of restraining yourself and instead, speaking right and appropriate words promises great reward.
Proverbs 12:16 NIV says, “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.” Did you catch that? Two people were insulted, but the prudent man overlooked it. One failed, and the other got it right! Which side of that coin do you want to be on? The person who got it right had a greater perception of the big picture than the one who was instantly annoyed (the fool.) This prudent person is stepping back in that instant and looking through God’s eyes of love—seeing the big picture of life, not allowing themself to be controlled by the emotional stimulus from the provocation. Love, forgiveness, and seeing the big picture from a godly perspective are core values that empower a person to restrain themselves. It is where the strength lies to keep their mouth in check. The prudent person understands the power of walking in love which in turn enables them to respond respectfully or not respond at all. This person has learned to let their words and response reflect God. Some might think this is being weak. It’s actually a demonstration of enormous inner strength! And this person will be rewarded for it over time.
Learning how to speak the truth in love and hold our emotions in check while keeping a respectful attitude is not easy. It’s the mother of all challenges! It’s as big of a challenge as we will ever take on. We can’t afford to forget that godly communication carries a lengthy learning curve because it’s about building character, which includes building the inner strength of restraint! It’s a process and takes hard work. The joy is in knowing that, in time, gaining strength in restraining your perspective, attitude, and tongue will eventually become an instinctive part of your character. It will lead to a new and better you! And I promise you it will become noticeable in the best way by others!
Ambassadors who represent their countries have typically developed these skills and strengths and are a part of the reason they were given the job. God calls us Ambassadors for Christ, which is why we need to develop in this area. God’s word teaches us that this is what helps us truly mature and become distinctively different from others. James 3:2 (NLT) says, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect (mature) and could also control ourselves in every other way.” I hope you caught that! Learning to control your tongue and perspectives sets you up with the foundation to be able to learn to control yourself in every other way! Wow! That is something to meditate on. A huge reward for this effort is gaining greater respect from others and increasing in God’s favor and blessing upon your life.
As you begin, know this! You cannot be impatient with your initial lack of success at restraining your attitude and tongue. You will initially fail repeatedly. But it will also show you the magnitude of the problem and the magnitude of the reward! It’s tough, for sure, but never quit. You will eventually be awed by your inner change as you become strong in it! The reward is so great as you begin to see this attribute develop over time within you! You are a child of God. The Holy Spirit lives within you. Ask Him not just daily but moment by moment to help you adjust your perspectives and words! He will! As you lean on Him, you will experience the grace of the Holy Spirit’s help and ever-increasing strength to accomplish this noble task. It is one of the greatest attributes of maturity, and it will lead you to greater harmony with others, promotion, and blessing—beyond what you could have ever imagined!
Oh yes, and one last benefit to mention. As you grow in this, you will glorify God more and more and increase your influence with others through your pattern of good behavior and godly speech!
Titus 2:7-8 NIV “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your instruction, show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say of you.”
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In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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