I’m writing this post to encourage those of you who, like me, feel a bit like you are under construction…which should include every one of us, because God promises that He will keep working in us until we are complete. This has been one of those weeks where I definitely feel the Lord’s presence in my heart. He’s been teaching me some gems.
It’s funny how all of a sudden I find ways that He is speaking when I asked Him to teach me and to help me examine my own heart. Books, friends, songs on the radio, verses in my daily reading….they all are converging on me, covering me and causing me to be still and pay attention. One of the things He has made me aware of is the voice inside my head.
Who is the voice inside your head? Do you hear the Lord speaking to you, or do you hear someone else? Words are so powerful — and words spoken in anger or mockery are doubly sharp. When I was a young teen, a very immature boy made fun of me because I was, in his words, “flat as a pancake.” Those cruel words reverberate inside my head even today, almost thirty years after they were spoken. The old adage,
“…sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you…”
is dead wrong and was probably coined by someone hurling hurtful words. The good news, though, is that when we truly surrender to Jesus as Lord, we don’t have to listen to those hurtful words anymore. The only words that matter are His, and He gives us words that are living water…words that refresh and renew and do not strip away, demean, or destroy.
“The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.” Psalm 103
“Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ…” Ephesians 1
“This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. Colossians 1
Do you hear those words? That you are not constantly accused? That you are holy and blameless, without fault? That He chose you? Or do you hear your critic reminding you of all the times you’ve failed? Of all the times you slipped? Of all the ways you are imperfect and do not measure up to a standard? That is the voice that has been inside my head…and I am turning it off, right now, because the Lord loves me as I am. “Just as I am, without one plea…but that thou blood, was shed, for me…” The old hymn is still true today.
God is showing me that those who listen to the critical voices often go on to become critical themselves. What about the words that I use? That you use? Do we use our words as weapons, as manipulative tools, as means to an end? Do we use them to demean or criticize or to build up and encourage? We who are Christians are called to use our words wisely.
“But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.[b]People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.” James 3
My mouth has both blessed and cursed, and that should not be. Jesus tells us that the words we speak signify the condition of our hearts.
“But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you.”
Lord, let my voice not be poison! Let my tongue be life giving, not life stealing!
Choosing to ignore the accumulated voices in our heads and focus our thoughts on what the Lord says about us rather than on what others say about us seems like a daunting task. To me, the journey to change my heart looks a bit like this “mountain.”
Deciding to work on the state of my inner heart, cutting out those things that defile me and my words seems to have an even steeper grade to traverse, with boulders standing in my way:
Yet when I surrender to Jesus and allow the healing touch of the Holy Spirit to permeate my heart, I realize that this work is not impossible. In fact, it is easier than I thought it would be because I have stepped back and changed my perspective.
When I let the Holy Spirit work with me, the task of taming my heart and shutting out the negative voices is really just a big old pile of dirt.
Lord, let my words be…few. Simple. Holy. Life giving. Let my mind hear YOUR voice, YOUR love, YOUR mercy. You are my strength and my shield, my rock, my redeemer, my shelter, my refuge. Thank you for tweaking my perspective. I needed that.