Sunday, February 8, 2009
...Lurking underneath the surface of our skin is a powerful force just waiting to burst out at any given moment. Some people call it emotion, I like to compare it to one of the most destructive forces of nature, the volcano; Gods word calls it the tongue. ...Our tongues are fast and powerful, with just a few words we can start a forest fire of emotion in those around us. Together we become little clumps of human volcanoes, spewing forth ash, lava, and volcanic acid at incredible rates of speed. James 3:5-6 says, "Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell." ...Recently I had the chance to sit quietly and listen to a room full of people. The opportunity was not wasted. I made some interesting observations which both humbled and motivated me. One is that humans rarely go more than ten minutes without at least one minor eruption. This is not an absolute rule, we study, eat, and sleep. But when we react with one another - the ingredients for emotional turmoil are there. People around us are speaking and we are listening. Sometimes we agree and sometimes we don't. Either way we want our say. Deep down inside the volcano pressure is building, the crust of our composure gets thinner and thinner as our emotional lava gets hotter. Pretty soon the soup of our feelings boils over. ...Instead of being a painful experience, eruption is so habitual that many of us don't even bat an eyelash. Unlike a real volcano our heads don't cave in, our features don't melt away (usually), and we can cool off in mere minutes. But damage is done. The air around us gets stuffy and our friends or siblings may carry around hurt and bitterness for days. Often the aftereffects linger - causing more eruptions later. ...The tongue is sharp as a sword. With it we can build people up or tear them down. Think about that the next time you feel like dumping a bucket load of molten magma on your annoying sibling, or stubborn debate opponent. Instead choose your words carefully - use them like polished gem stones. Gently build a bridge of understanding over the gap between you and your listener, then lead them across by hand. "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver" Proverbs 25:11 Don't lead them over on hot coals or they will burn their feet in the process! And despite all your confidence, you run the risk of getting burned too. Never assume you are right. Let love cover your speech and proceed with humility. Proverbs 10:19-21 says, "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of wisdom." ...Alright, here is observation number two. Eruptions aren't always bad. Often our lively and stimulated conversations can lead to good insight and motivation. We just need to be very very careful because so often our human tendency is to get out of hand. In the verse above we see that in a multitude of words sin is not lacking. After reading this simple bit of wisdom I realized that I need to temper my speech in its tone and the amount of words I allow to came out of my mouth. It is so important that we listen, how can we do this if we are the only ones talking? ...The term "human volcano" and "eruption" do not refer to the "good morning" we say to our family each morning. It doesn't refer to the calm dinner conversation - or the speeches we need to give at class. It refers to the emotions of Anger, Hilarity, and Conviction. (Conviction may not be in itself an emotion, but it certainly produces a wide range of emotions) When these "erupt" they are the expressions of pent up emotion at the bottom of our magma chambers. In other words, eruptions are usually something we need to learn how to control. How can we channel all that energy into a constructive, not destructive, flow? ...You're in luck because you're not alone in this quest. Every man that ever lived, with the exception of Jesus Christ, has struggled with the issue of controlling the tongue. Here are a few verses to wet your whistle and encourage an enthusiasm in you to control your tongue. "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. " Proverbs 18:21 "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city. " Proverbs 16:32 "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." Proverbs 17:27-28 ...Do we want the power of life and death in lives? Do we want to be called wise? Do we want to conquer strong cities? Learn to control the tongue! Here's what happens to the foolish man in his eruption of meaningless, hurtful, words. "A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. " Proverbs 18:6-7 ...Imagine someone coming up and backhanding you in the middle of an argument. "What was that for?" you demand angrily. The answer is obvious, you entered the boxing ring of hurtful words and stirred the deep emotions of your opponent with your speech. They were wrong for hurting you, but you should have considered the consequences of your actions. Hurtful fiery words are like blows. You have been beating the tender heart of your friend, sibling, co-worker, whoever, with the words of your mouth. In the end uncontrolled speech will at best get you no where; worst scenario - the snare of destruction. So how can I control my speech? What's the answer, the secret formula? Controlling Eruptions ...There is no secret formula, you can never control your speech. So why did I write this paper? Because even though I can't do the imposable task of controlling my tongue, Jesus can. If you are not a Christian then stop reading right now because this is not for you. You can go no further. Those who have experienced the life changing salvation and redemption which Jesus Christ gives to His own, continue reading because there is hope for you. ...The man who never had to learn to control His tongue and who certainly has taken and will take the strongest cities of this age is on your side. Here is the answer. Become like Christ. The more you pray, the more you are in Gods Word, the more you will sound like Christ. You will know when to hold your tongue and when to speak. The Holy Spirit is able to work in you the fruit of a wise man, the fruit of a Christ follower. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." Ephesians 5:22-26 ...Wherever you heart is, there your treasure will be. Rephrase; wherever your thoughts are, there your words will be. Keep your thoughts on good things. Don't allow yourself to lapse into unhealthy thoughts, thoughts of revenge, anger, frustration, or suspicion. Think the best of those around you and trust God to set the records straight. "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8 Dormant Volcanoes ...Here is a final tip. look out for dormant volcanoes in those around you. We need to be sensitive enough to avoid sore and hurtful topics in others. I'm not talking about things that need addressed. We have a responsibility to confront each other about sin, we are supposed to keep each other accountable no matter how distressing the eruption that follows. What I'm am saying here is that there are times (we can all remember them) when we carelessly, even purposely, bring up sore (hot) topics with people for our own enjoyment, self congratulation, or other reasons. ...When the temptation comes up, resist it! "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Philippians 2:3-4 Sometimes we aren't even aware of the dormant volcano we are arousing. But we need to be aware. In as much as possible we need to know the needs and concerns of those around us and watch out for there best interest. Try taking extra time this week to understand your siblings and the body of Christ around you. ...Lets go conquer with our tongues, through humility, concern, love, and gentleness. Channel all the emotion bottled up at the bottom of your volcano into serving others - into prayer. There is nothing more satisfying than taking your frustrations to the Lord in prayer. Its the one place where our eruption is going to be put in its place quickly. I suspect its part of the reason we even have such powerful emotions - they drive us to our knees and propel us to our God. They are a force we cannot control without the help of the Holy Spirit through the riches in grace we have in Christ Jesus.