Friday, March 11, 2016

the ten: being a benefit to those who will listen (part 11)

"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16)

Chuck and I were discussing this blog series and chatting about which commandment was next in God's line of loving instructions. As we reviewed the commands that I had taken time to write about for DW, we soon realized that we had reached #9 of "the ten". (Wow - we made it to #9!) We decided to remind ourselves what #9 was all about and soon remembered that it was God's command to not giving a false testimony against a neighbor. From there, we looked at each other perplexed. What does that really mean? For as many times as I've read this direction, I never gave it much consideration - except to perhaps think of it as an instruction to not gossip about another or to always tell the truth in a judicial setting. So, I spent many hours during the insomniac moments of several evenings studying and praying over this matter. Here is what I learned...

"Bearing a false witness" or "Giving a false testimony" is all about guarding our mouths and understanding the tremendous impact our words can make on others. It is about submitting our tongues over to our Almighty Father for holy correction and guidance. What we say, and what we don't say.... how we say something, and how we don't say something - these words will either build up an individual or tear them down. We are capable of lifting a person up with truth, honor and love OR we can tear a person down (smashing them brick by brick) into a pile of broken rubble. When we are not walking with God and seeking the counsel of His Spirit, our fleshly nature (equipped with a tameless tongue) can cripple and destroy anyone in our path. In short, whenever we say something to an individual or about an individual that does not mirror or represent what God would say to or about them, we are bearing a false witness and giving a false Christian (Christ-like) testimony.

When I began to realize the magnitude of commandment #9, I was able to understand that this is a big deal to God. This short and sweet command is filled with so much wisdom and covers so much territory that it is life changing!!! For we all have the power to shape those around us merely by the words we speak. With just a few small words, we have the ability to deeply damage and destroy our husbands, our children, our friends, our churches, our co-workers, our acquaintances... ANYBODY! And when we are reckless to do so... when we pose as God's church while saying less about a person than Christ would say about them - we are choosing to work against His kingdom, and thus... sinning.

"The tongue has the power of life and death." (Proverbs 18:21a)

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18)


"You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue!" (Psalm 52:4)

As a race full of sin, mankind does not hold the power to tame the tongue. Scripture assures us in James 3:8 that the tongue is "a restless evil, full of deadly poison." POISON!?? Ouch! Poison kills! Poison is lethal! Poison must be avoided at all cost! God knows this. So, He made sure to teach us that our objective when speaking and representing His kingdom should be to produce words that heal and restore - not words that wound.

"The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:14)

So, how do we use our tongue without administering deadly, evil venom? How do we prevent sickening our marital relationships, alienating our loved ones, destroying our friendships, and dishonoring our leaders? The answer is not found in our own ability, but in God's authority. He alone has the power to change us and mold us into Christlikeness. To live in the Name of Jesus is to be willing to submit everything (especially our tongues and speech) over to our Maker and follow His call to live godly. Rather than maul one another with words and attitudes that lash out in annoyance, sarcasm, anger, hatred, bitterness, jealousy, dishonesty, gossip, disgust... God wants us to speak truthfully, wholesomely and compassionately to and about each other.

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4:25; 29; 31-32)

God wants His church to be a living example of Christ - showcasing His message of grace. Because of this, the greatest form of evangelism is to always show His love to others. Simply love. Real love. Godly love. Committed love. If we take care to follow God's way and express the love of Christ through how we speak and treat one another, we are making the most of every opportunity to be effective witnesses of our Savior. We are mirroring Jesus to the world with the very breath and body He used to bring us to life. Christ said it Himself in John 13, "By this all men will know that you are my disciples."

God is love. And in love, we were made to live together as His people. This is the eternal hope that those who believe and follow Jesus can look forward to. As His children, we will one day be standing in His holy kingdom and free to live without the burden of sin and death. We will receive a new life filled with rejoicing, praising and singing in the glorious presence of the great and worthy I AM! Knowing this, the only thing we should ever strive to be is a benefit, a blessing... so that others may see the joy we have in our salvation!

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Ladies, as Christian women, we are accountable to The Holy Spirit in how we speak to and about others. And when I say "others", I am not only referring to the faceless crowds who occupy space on this planet. I am referring to our husbands. I am speaking about our children, our siblings, our parents, our friends. I am directing your attention to those who are a close to you in your day-to-day lives. These are the people in whom we make the greatest impact. So, we need to consciously decide to listen to our Great Counselor and speak to those we are socially intimate with holy appropriateness. We need to follow His call to represent God sweetly with our words... to hush our mouths and listen respectfully... and to bite down hard and determinately when The Spirit makes it clear that we should... well, shut up! (Really - put some teeth in that tongue if you must!)

Secondly, we must be honest with each other when we do screw up. We must not delay in confronting whomever we treated falsely and ask for their forgiveness and prayer.

Lastly, we must discipline ourselves to always praise God - no matter what the circumstance, situation, or trial... no matter what happy or hard moments may come... no matter what evil men or those who seek goodness will say or do. In EVERYTHING we must make our focus ALL ABOUT GOD and not about ourselves. We must start every day deliberately - remembering WHO our loving Master is. And we must continue to praise, acknowledge and uphold His many names through every hour we are blessed to live. For He is our Almighty, Unchanging Father. Our Redeemer. Our Refuge. Our Shepherd. Our Teacher. Our Counselor. The Author and Finisher of our faith. The Day Spring. The Way. The Truth. The Life. The Mighty King of kings. The Holy Holy Holy Lord of lords.

We are His living church. A church that follows the One who always speaks truth... the One who will forever love, encourage and build up... the One who holds authority over life and has overcome all sin and death. The One who wants the VERY BEST for our lives! As His church, we must each be a benefit to those who will listen... a "safe place" of holy comfort and peace - just as Christ continues to be a for us.

This is #9 of "the ten" commandments. Yes, it is short and sweet in it's instruction. But, let us follow it's example and keep our words few - full of hope and praise - as we live our lives celebrating The Prince of Peace!

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2)

"I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." (Acts 2:25-28)


Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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