Archive for the “Power of the Tongue” Category

In Genesis 12, Abraham lied about Sarah, telling the Egyptians that she was his sister. The king of Egypt, the Pharaoh, took Sarah into his harem. God sent a terrible plague on Pharaoh’s entire household.

In Genesis 20, Abraham lied about Sarah, telling the Gerarites that she was his sister. The king of Gerar, Abimelech, took Sarah as one of his wives. God came to Abimelech in a dream and warned him that he would die if he kept Sarah as his wife because she was already the wife of Abraham.

What strikes me is that our sins cause those around us to sin unknowingly. In both situations above, the kings would not have taken Sarah from Abraham and into their homes if they had known that she was Abraham’s wife. But Abraham allowed his fear to be the justification for lying instead of trusting God to come through for him. So he chose to sin instead of trust God. And in choosing to sin, he caused those around him to sin.

First, let’s get something straight. Sin is serious stuff and lying is a serious sin. Deuteronomy 25:16 says that God detests anyone who deals dishonestly. Proverbs 6 tells us that there are seven things that are detestable to the Lord and one of them is a lying tongue. Detests is a pretty strong word. The King James Version uses the words “are an abomination.” I am far from sinless, but I don’t want to knowingly do something that is detestable to the Lord, that is an abomination to Him. Nor do I want to be the cause of someone else’s detestable actions. Abraham lied. It caused those around him to commit other sins.

Is this relevant today? You bet! When we lie (even the white lies), we put those around us in a difficult position. If they don’t know we lied to them, they are likely to repeat our lie unknowingly or act sinfully because of the lie we told. For example, if I illegally download software then give it to someone telling them it is a legal version, when they use the software, they will be violating the law. When I illegally download music, all those around me are listening to stolen music.

Now suppose the person knew I was lying. That puts them in the position of telling others the truth, revealing my sin, or continuing my lie by lying themselves. That’s not an easy place to be. Let’s say I want to go to the movies with my husband this afternoon but I had previously told my mom that I’d visit her. Maybe I’ve considered this and think it’s more important today to take the afternoon and spend it with my husband. But I don’t want to disappoint my mom or hurt her feelings, so instead of telling her the truth, I tell her that I can’t come visit today because I have too much work to do. Having too much work to do seems like a better reason to skip visiting her than going to a movie instead. But it’s a lie. If mom talks to Phil and begins saying how glad she is that we’re busy at work, he is immediately put in the position of telling her that her daughter lied to her or lying himself to protect me.

Yes, these are small examples, but they are every day examples. You might say “what’s the big deal.” I say that the Lord detests a lying tongue. I don’t want to own or be what the Lord detests. AND, it’s not just about me. When I sin, I cause those around me to sin.

How much better to cause those around me to rejoice in the Lord because I am rejoicing in the Lord? How much better to cause those around me to serve the Lord because they see my joy in serving the Lord? How much better to cause those around me to live with integrity because they see that God honors those who live with integrity?

Our actions have consequences – whether for good or evil, what we do impacts what those around us do. Will you be challenged, as I am, to live righteously before God and others?

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I don’t make New Year’s resolutions…especially when I don’t get around to blogging about them until January 24. Oops!

New Year’s resolutions just seem like things that are destined to make me feel bad about myself because I can pretty much assure you that whatever I resolve to do or not do, I’m going to weaken at some point. And then I’m going to feel like a failure. So why set myself up for that?
That doesn’t mean I don’t pursue growing and improving. It’s just that I don’t consider them to be resolutions. Resolutions always seem to be something I’m going to “try” to do. I prefer to approach growing and improving through training not trying.

Here’s what I mean: I could try to run a marathon tomorrow. There is a 100% probability that I’d fail! A better approach would be to begin training tomorrow for a marathon that is sometime this summer. If I train consistently and well, I reduce my probability of failure considerably…perhaps down to zero! Resolutions feel a lot like trying.

Instead there are two areas in which I hope to train myself this coming year. Both involve my language, but I know the words I use also impact on how I think and how I influence others.

1) I frequently say “I’m so stupid.” That’s not a true statement. I am not stupid. Sometimes I do something stupid, but not nearly as often as I accuse myself of it. I usually use the phrase when I’ve made a bad play in a game, forgotten how to accomplish something on the computer, or done something equally as inoccuous. That’s not stupid, it’s just not being perfect. And guess what!? I’m not perfect! I’m not even close. I know that…so why do I beat myself up for it?

2) I frequently say that “I have to” do something when referring to something that I am privileged to do. When I use the phrase, it often sounds like I’m complaining about it. That’s wrong. For example, I’ll often say “I have to prepare for a Bible study” or “Saturday I have to prepare for the nursing home service on Sunday.” Instead, I’m going to say “I’ve set aside Saturday to prepare for our church service on Sunday.” or “I’m studying tonight to prepare for our Bible study on Wednesday.” It’s the difference between conveying that I’m upholding my end of an obligation and conveying that I am preparing for something I’m blessed to be a part of.

Words mean things and they impact how we think about what’s happening around (and inside) us. I know that my “have to’s” sometimes impacted my attitude toward things that I am really blessed to participate in. I want my words to have a positive impact on me and those around me.
So I’ve put myself in training to no longer use either phrase. I’ve asked the people around me to correct me and when I do slip up I’m correcting myself by reiterating that I’m not stupid, I’m actually quite intelligent or reminding myself how blessed I am to have opportunities to participate in the things I’m involved in. If you catch me mumbling that I’m stupid or talking about things I “have to” do, please correct me.

How’s your language? Are there phrases you use that subtly (or not so subtly) change how you view yourself, others or activities in your life? If so, I invite you to join me “in training!”

Want to read more about training vs. trying? Authors John Ortberg, Laurie Pederson and Judson Poling give a great discussion of it in their book aptly titled Growth: Training vs. Trying (Pursuing Spiritual Transformation) (copyright 2000 by The Willow Creek Association, published by Zondervan).

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