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Focusing on your thoughts and thinking before we speak. It’s a fundamental rule to live by, but does anybody else have an issue with that?Just spouting off and saying the first thing that comes to mind? Not considering how it would make somebody feel or the tone of my voice? More often than not, I don’t think, ”Hey, I probably shouldn’t react right now to this. I should probably just keep this one to myself.”
Last week I had a stressful meeting with co-workers, and it’s been a difficult week ever since. We were all pretty upset, but it was evident that everyone was waiting for just one person to speak first. We were all just kind of on edge. Have you ever been in one of those meetings or one of those moments and you’re just waiting for somebody to say something? It’s super quiet and you just don’t know what to do at that point. So I did something. . .
I cried literally right in the middle of the Zoom meeting. I’m the leader of the meeting and I just cried. I couldn’t help it, because I was struggling so hard with knowing what to say and what not to say. There were many things that were confidential and I needed to remain professional and keep them that way, and not “sipping tea.”
Did you know that’s what young people call gossiping now . . . sipping tea? When women are at a tea party and they’re sipping tea, really, they’re just got gossiping, right? The young girls in my discipleship group would say to me, “I’ve got some tea for you.” It was new for me, too, and we all know about the dangers of gossip.
So back to my breakdown in the meeting, the question was, what good would have been done by sharing confidential things? I could have said what I know, but would it have done any good? Not just would it have been harmful, but would it have brought about anything good. Spouting off was not going to solve anything at all. Doing so probably would have hurt me and anybody that I was taking down with me.
While the others chatted I prayed and I cried as I struggled with knowing what to say. I knew God would give me the words and nothing more. At that point, I was actually coming from a position of hurt and anger. My thoughts were whirling from the day before, and my emotions were high, the perfect recipe for disastrous words to come from my mouth.
As women we have to be really careful because our emotions do run high. We wear our hearts on our sleeves, as they say, so I knew my emotions and what would have happened if my thoughts were verbalized: People would have been hurt and offended, and relationships would have been severed. My emotions were a warning sign of what was going on inside my head and in my heart.
We are all born with sin, even those sweet, precious, tiny babies; they are born with a sin nature. It was passed down from our ancestors. All the way back to Adam and Eve, that nature fuels our sinful thoughts, our desires and our temptations.
jesus-to-you/” title=”Jesus” data-wpil-keyword-link=”linked”>Jesus said it this way in Mark 7:21-22: “For out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murders, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, evil, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile the man.”
Lasciviousness means lust or shamelessness and it has the connotation of being filthy. Evil things come from within and defile the man. Did you know that list of things I just read could be within your heart and in your mind? It’s really hard to believe that, isn’t it, because we want to think of ourselves as good people, but it says evil thoughts, adultery, fornication, murderers, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, evil, blasphemy, pride and foolishness. All those things are in your mind.
Even though we are defiled by sin and have a sin nature, Jesus paid the penalty of death to release us from its bondage. We were once slaves to sin, but Jesus paid that debt to free us from sin. When we accept his gift of salvation we are freed from it and even though it’s part of our nature, we do not have to succumb to it. We can do something about those thoughts before they do damage to us.
Isaiah 55:7 says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” When we have those thoughts what are we supposed to do? We’re to return to the Lord, plead with him for his mercy, and he will give us mercy.
Think about a guy on death row whose death is certain, then all of a sudden the call comes to stop the execution. At that moment he’s released from death . . . and that’s us. Our sin has earned us death, but the Lord pardons us.
First we forsake our own thoughts. Then we return to the Lord and plead for his mercy, but what happens if we become so desensitized to sin that we don’t even recognize those thoughts are even harmful to us?
Have you ever driven down the same road so many times that it becomes second nature to you and your car practically drives itself straight home? You’ve traveled that road, that path, so many times that it’s just ingrained in your brain.
When it rains on our gravel road, there’s always a path that the water takes no matter how many times the road grader comes down our road and tries to fix it. The water always wants to take out this one spot in the road because that’s the way it’s always gone.
Our thoughts do the same thing. They continue to go down those same trails until becoming a beaten path. No longer is it just one little tiny trail. It’s a road now and that’s what happens to our thoughts.
Sometimes we watch movies or listen to music that’s inappropriate and there comes a point when suddenly, you don’t even realize that you’re desensitized to it. At that point, we don’t even realize that our thoughts are harmful. We assume those thoughts are not hurting anybody else. They’re just inside our minds not hurting anybody else. It’s fine.
This is my plea to the Lord each day and it’s found in Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
What would Jesus find if he searched your heart and your mind? Do you ever think about that? Jesus is the light of the world, and even though our thoughts can be dark, they’re not hidden from the Lord.
We already know what’s in our heart and our mind, we know our thoughts are devastating, they’re shameful, their vile thoughts, so we beg him to lead us in the way everlasting just like that Scripture said: The way to him depends on if we walk beside Jesus with our eyes focused on him and not on this world, our responses, our thoughts, our actions, all of that is centered on God and not ourselves.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord and a thought shall be established.” If your “center” is Christ, if he is your focus, then our thoughts words and our thoughts will follow that path.
Here’s an acronym to remind us as we attempt to think before we speak:
THINK: True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind
Number one: Is it true? Is there any doubt that what I’m about to say is 100% truth or is it just hearsay, “sipping tea”? Is it something I think or feel, or is it true?
Number two: Is it helpful? Is what I’m about to say going to add to the problem or provide a solution? Is it stirring the pot of the boiling mess?
Number three: Is it inspiring? Will what I say result in positive behavior or change? Is it likely that something good would come from it?
Number four: Is it necessary? Many words we speak are unnecessary. Can we still accomplish the same goal or achieve the same success without this piece of information or our opinion? The answer is probably yes.
Number five: Is it kind? “I’m sorry, but . . . “ Have you ever started a sentence that way? If so, you probably don’t need to say it. And even if we add in the old Southern phrase, “Well, bless her heart . . . “ It really does not make your comment any better. How many times do we say that? Don’t say it. It’s probably not kind.
THINK before you speak. I think that’s a challenge we all us have.
Lord, how true these words are and how you have pointed this lesson straight at me!
I have no doubt whether you are speaking to your spouse, a parent, a child, your boss, a co-worker or even the internet provider who you’re frustrated with, that God is interested in our words and whether they point to him or to yourself and the world.