Passage of the Day: Job 20 … Linked for study …
My Journal for Today: Apparently Zophar, one of Job’s three “friends,” who seem to be hovering around our hero now like buzzards with their lethal advice, has gotten a bit hot; and he levels a sermon at Job accusing him of some latent, previously unseen wickedness. And he gets pretty graphic with his choice of words, comparing poor Job with the contents of Job’s body. Ugh! I’ll leave you to put your own words to that word picture.
But this emotional rhetoric shows how verbal sparring can grow in intensity as feelings flair and the words which can come out, as Swindoll states, can be like “… like depth charges.” Zophar’s statements of opinion are said with eloquence and even as poetry; but they are hurtful and certainly not helpful. So, when we have opinions and we’re in the midst of a verbal sparring match with someone whom you know is leveling lies or false teachings, how does one know what to say?
Well, as I read Chapter 20 of Job and the devotional from Chuck Swindoll this morning, God raised in my consciousness a lesson I learned from a New Testament scripture I memorized and my mentor’s teaching from it. It is Ephesians 4: 29. Do you know it? If you don’t, let me quote it here; because it gives us Godly criteria on what to say and when to say it – or what not to say and when not to say it. It goes like this [NKJV] …
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Don’t you wish Zophar and the other three of Job’s friends had internalized that Godly lesson in verbal restraint? And I think we all need to get this truth into our mind and heart. What God, through the Apostle Paul, is teaching is how to know when to say something and when to keep our mouth’s (or in the modern day, our “keyboards”) silent. It is saying that if our communication cannot edify or give grace to the hearer, we should be verbally restrained. And that kind of self control is a reflection of the fruit of the Spirit found in the mature Christian.
Hopefully you also know the listing of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5: 22, 23; … you’ve probably got them memorized, “… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” Have you ever noticed that the fruit of “self control” is last on that list; and I believe that is because Paul knew that this one fruit is the last to mature in most people and it requires the development and maturing of all of the other fruit listed before it so that we can exercise Godly self control.
Zophar is God’s example of how Godly people should weigh what they say before the words are said, even if they are poetic and eloquently articulated. Do our words uplift, enlighten, and provide grace (i.e., a gift from God) if they are spoken? You know, all too often I find that I let my feelings out too easily, especially with this mode of computer communication. Have you ever found yourself feeling like you have the answers and you send an email of Facebook posting, which is glibly offered but later you realize that it was not helpful and certainly not grace-filled in its intent? But the words are out there and you can’t bring them back. The damage has been done. The whip has already cracked; and the hurt cannot be retracted.
So, I think we all need to internalize the truth of Ephesians 4: 29; and use it as a filtering device for what we say or we post online. Do my words of confrontation edify and give grace to those I’m giving them? If not, … Bill, … just shut them off. Don’t speak them! Don’t send them out into cyberspace. If they can’t provide God’s grace to my hearer, God says, “Don’t say them; don’t write them.” Oh, how I pray I can learn that lesson and live it.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to have restraint in using my words for the provision of Your grace to others. Amen