Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Loose Lips Sink Ships

(August 2010)

Written quickly, before I work myself out of the conviction...

Quite a few years back, our church did a message series about the prayer of Jabez. For those who haven’t heard it before, 1 Chronicles 4:10 says, ‘And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” The “big picture” lesson of the overall series, as I took it, was that we should pray to increase our sphere of influence. But there was one particular part of one particular message that turned out to be quite a life-changer for me.

Rurel, our Senior Pastor, told a story about a lady he’d known years before in some other time and church. He explained that this lady always, always knew your name. The story was relative to the meaning and importance of names, and Rurel was illustrating something that we all know is true - we feel valued when we’re called by name. I thought about his story for days and days after that and came to the very clear conclusion that I wanted to be that kind of lady. I wanted to be able to remember people by name - to illuminate for people, very personally, the value that they have and are in life.

So I prayed that I would become a name-caller and God has granted my request.

We are again in the midst of a series, a good one about “putting off the old self and putting on the new.” And this morning there was a particular part of today’s particular message that I can’t stop thinking about. Jeremy, our new Teaching Pastor, referred to the kind of people “who never say anything negative about other people.” He implied something that must be true for everyone - that we are just enamored with such people ... that we wish we were such people.

So I’ve been thinking ... I could just pray to be that kind of person. But this is where the story takes a twist. I feel some kind of reluctance - some kind of absurd hesitation about asking for such a thing! The real meditation is not about what it would mean to be a non-negative person but about why I would even hesitate to pray to become one.

Here is my conclusion: on count one, I asked God to give me something; on count two, I’m asking Him to take something from me. So I was good with the getting ... but with the giving up, maybe not so much.

Maybe I oughta be shocked by this realization. Maybe, at least, I should feel reluctant to share this information. However, I feel obligated to share this. I’ve heard too many messages, had too many conversations with friends, been corrected too many times about the need for transparency not to share it. The sad truth of the matter is that I am still clinging to my “old self” ways.

Please understand that I would not define myself by habits such as gossip, or foul language, or hateful, negative talk. But I also cannot claim an absence of these things from my life. And the clearest conviction I’m having here is that, when I get a hold of something upsetting, I’m like Gollum with his precious ring, turning it over and over and over - unwilling to let it go, albeit my ultimate demise.

I’m talking about asking God to make me into the kind of person who never says a negative thing about another person. The kind of person who never says a negative thing. The kind of person who does not “let any unwholesome talk come out of [her mouth], but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” 1 John 4:20 (NKJ.) If I call one person by name, claiming this as an example of God’s love, but speak harshly about someone else, do I really carry the Truth?

“The mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Matthew 12:34b (NASB) To become a wholly wholesome-speaking person, the change must begin in my heart. I will pray for God to change my heart.

And for my own will to die, as I must pray every morning that I wake up, remembering that “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NKJ)


Angela Montondo said...

"So I was good with the getting ... but with the giving up, maybe not so much."

Again..we meet on common ground. I love reading your posts Amanda.

Amanda P. said...

thanks, angie! you know i feel the exact same way about yours!