Just imagine taking a tube of toothpaste and squeezing it until it's empty. Now, let's see if we can put it back into the tube. You're right that's not possible. The other day I was texting on my phone, and just as I pushed the 'send' button, I noticed a mistake. Unfortunately, my phone doesn't allow me to terminate the 'send'. I couldn't take it back. The words had been sent. Being unable to put the paste back into the tube is the same for retrieving anything that's been said. It can't be done!
Whether we are speaking, texting, or emailing, once the statement has been communicated, there is no bringing it back. That's why it's very important to be sure before we transmit our thoughts into words, we double check them. Not just for the spelling, but to be certain we're conveying a spirit of love and gentleness. How easy it is to be frustrated or angry and speak our mind with regrets later. I was always told, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything".
Proverbs 12:18 "There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword,
But the tongue of the wise promotes health".
Proverbs 10:19 "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise."
Proverbs 15:1-2 "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness."
These scriptures express the importance of what we say! Too many times we talk without thinking, voicing fears, opinions, anger, or foolish things. Declaring something automatically sets in motion a process to accomplish what was spoken. Words have power. What we say is impacting. It can tear down, hurt, destroy, wound, or build up, being encouraging, enlightening, and empowering. Just like Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue,...."
How can I gain control over what I say, you ask? The first and foremost way is watch what goes in you. Jesus said, "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45) Whatever we are feeding our spirit is what enters our heart. Spending long periods of time watching television programs or movies, consistent playing of video games, listening to worldly music, companionship with unbelievers, or even frequent reading of ungodly publications can influence our spirit man. These things can have a bearing on belief and faith. The Word says, "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". We build our faith by listening to the preached Word of God. In the same manner we build our doubts, fears, and insecurities by what we hear. Instead of filling ourself with the world, we need to be packing in God's Word.
Joshua 1:8 (GW) says, "Never stop reciting these teachings. You must think about them night and day so that you will faithfully do everything written in them. Only then will you prosper and succeed." The more we exercise this scripture, the more successful we will be in our life. Not only will this help with what's coming out of our mouth, but also how we handle problems. Remember - We can't take back what we said, so watch what we speak! "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight." Psalm 19:14
Anyone out there ever made a mistake that you were embarrassed about? A bad decision or a fall into a sin? Then right after the realization that you fell short of the grace of God, remorse set in. All the repenting didn't seem to help you feel better. And the devil, who is quick to bring up past sins, guilt or condemnation was right there on your tail. Even some friends or family seem to constantly rehearse the mishap, which doesn't make the situation better. Getting past the hurt and guilt is extremely difficult. Forgiveness from yourself and those you hurt, generally seem a long time coming.
1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Of course the first thing we need to do is confess to the Lord we messed up. The second, is to ask for forgiveness. Then the scripture says, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us! That means He cleans us up. It's as if we never sinned. Now, the hard part, in our mind is, we must forgive ourself! Yes, we have to let it go, just as if we never sinned! (A word of caution, all this forgiveness and cleansing, doesn't give us freedom to sin again. Rom. 6:15) Forgiveness is not condoning the sin or even the lack of accountability, it's letting go of the anguish or resentment of the sin. It's coming to realize that Jesus himself took our sin, guilt and iniquities. Is. 53:5 NIV "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole." We can be free from pain of guilt and condemnation only by receiving it by faith from God, when we truly repent!
Now let's talk to the people that were hurt by the offense. I am reminded of the story in the Bible where, Jesus spoke to the accusers of the woman caught in the act of adultery, "he who is without sin cast the first stone". I believe that everyone of us at one time has committed a sin that affected others. I can already hear "but my sin wasn't as grave as the one committed against me"! Listen people of God, sin is sin! Lying is the same as stealing, sexual sin is the equilvalent of anger, unforgiveness is synonymous of murder. One sin is not greater than another! And if Jesus can forgive us of any sin we commit, then how simple is it that we forgive others! Holding grudges, animosity or someone hostage for their sin hurts us as much it does the one who committed the infraction. First of all it keeps us from being forgiven. (Mat. 6:14-15) Secondly, the bitterness that comes from unforgiveness keeps the blessings of God from flowing to us because we grieve the Holy Spirit. "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:29-32)
How many times are we suppose to forgive, you ask? Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4 "Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” I know some of you are saying, 'How can I forgive this person that has done this dastardly deed against me? My feelings are hurt. Trust is broken. How do I know they won't do it again?' The answer to forgiveness is LOVE. Agape Love which is unconditional Love, like the love Jesus gave us. He forgave us even before we were born. He paid the price for our sin and forgiveness 2000 years ago. The only way to get past this hurt is by faith in the Lord. Through prayer, praying like you would for yourself and faith, forgiveness will flow. Every time you think of the pain you must forgive by faith, until one day you realize it's no longer tormenting you. That's when forgiveness is established.
If you are one of these two kinds of people I urge you to operate in the Love of God and forgive. Allow the healing power of God to come into your life and minister to you. Remember 2 Cor. 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." Trust the Lord for a new beginning. All things are possible with Him.
Prayer #1: Father, in the name of Jesus I come to you repenting for my actions. I ask for Your forgiveness and invite the Holy Spirit to help direct me and lead me in the path of righteousness. Open my ears and seal Your Word, that I may do what I have heard. Amen.
Prayer #2: Father, I come to You in the name of Jesus praying for the person that sinned against me. I forgive them as Christ forgave me. I loose them from my anger and allow the Holy Spirit to minister healing to them and to me. I ask forgiveness for anything I may have done to cause this transgression. And I choose to operate in the Agape Love towards them. Amen.
Offense can be one of the most deadly forces against a Christians faith. Take just a minute and reflect on your life and see if there is anyone or any situation that has offended you. The possibilities of being offended right now, at this very moment, are extremely great.
We can be offended at all types of actions: drivers driving too slow or erratic, people saying or doing things that annoy us, not seated quickly enough at the restaurant, or the checker behind the counter behaved rudely. Let's face it, offense comes in many ways. And generally, offense comes because of disappointment, lack of understanding, resentment, or disagreement.
If we would take a minute to truthfully analyze any offense in our life, we would most assuredly find that there are selfish reasons behind the insult we felt. "They said something to hurt MY feelings.", "They invaded MY space.", "They didn't do what I expected or wanted.", or "They weren't listening to ME." Let's face it, offense is an extremely selfish feeling for the one being offended. I'm not saying that all the fault lies in the offended one. The people offending are hugely selfish as well. Perhaps wanting their own way, thinking of themselves higher than they ought, or totally consumed with themselves and their problems. So, what's the best way to handle offense, you ask?
#1) Be quick to forgive. We must let any offense go. It can be a root of bitterness that takes hold and keeps us bound, eventually bringing stress and sickness. Heb. 12:14-15NIV "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
#2) Pray for the offender like you would pray for yourself. 1 Timothy 2:8 says, to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. When we truly forgive our offender, we can honestly come before God with a pure heart and clear conscience praying genuinely in agape love for them.
#3) Walk in Love. Yes, this is a biggie. 1 Cor. 13:3-8 "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...."
The true love of God operating in us and through us - never takes account of any wrongs toward us, behaves considerately towards everyone, doesn't wish evil on the offender, and doesn't seek to serve self. True love, God's love isn't just giving magnificent gifts or heroic self sacrifice, but it's expression of His character through us toward others. They can 'see' Him IN us!
So the next time you're challenged to be offended or offend, remember to be the expression of God.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."