Monday, August 4, 2008

A Gentle Voice During Conflict

In Ephesians 4:29-32, God says, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."

I want to share a past devotional from Ron Hutchcraft. As humans we can let the stress of the moment take over our attitudes and mouths:

"Measure your treatment of your family by these verses; your treatment of your co-workers, your neighbors, your friends, and the people you encounter in your daily rounds. Here's what it says, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up ... And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God..."

Now, how do you grieve the Holy Spirit? How do you make God cry? Apparently, it's by verbally tearing down someone that He's trying to build. God tells us to have zero tolerance for the kind of talk that damages people. He says, "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander ... Be kind and compassionate to one another..."

Many times we have no idea of how much damage our careless words are doing; the angry words, the critical words, the harsh words, those sarcastic words, or those backstabbing words. But God knows how deep the wounds of your words are going, and that's why He grieves over them.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that "the tongue has the power of life and death" and in Proverbs 12:18 it says, "reckless words pierce like a sword." I wonder how many times, even in recent weeks, words of yours or mine have sliced right through someone. We've probably forgotten what we said or how we said it. They may never forget it.

But down inside your soul there is that voice, the voice of the Holy Spirit, who, like our daughter with our grandson, knows how damaging our words can be. And the Holy Spirit is trying to whisper, "Gentle. Please be gentle with him. Be gentle with her." That's why the Bible says, "The fruit of the Spirit is ... gentleness" (Galatians 5:23).

Maybe it's time to apologize to the Lord for the times that you've ignored that voice, or maybe you've just drowned it out with your own. Maybe it's time to apologize to someone you've wounded with your harshness. And maybe it's time to say, "Lord, I've done enough damage. I'm really sorry. Please teach me to treat people like You did when You were here. I want to learn how to be gentle."

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Father God, forgive me for hurting the ones I love. Please cleanse me of all my anger, resentment and lack of self-control. Fill me with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.



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