Every day I pray for wisdom. I learned from the Psalms the importance of praying for wisdom. The Psalms has a perspective I embrace. I can do everything I can such as study, research, listen, and learn and the by product will be knowledge. The Psalms are individually and corporately adamant that wisdom is a gift from God. God can give us wisdom in our seeking of knowledge but the Psalmists have come to the conclusion that only God ultimately gives wisdom. I have known very wise persons who do not have a lot of knowledge and I have a lot of persons who have a lot of knowledge and not much wisdom. There are very few who have an abundance of both. It is not that wisdom and knowledge are mutually exclusive. They are, in fact, two sides to the same coin, if you will. Wisdom, if you and I listen well to the Psalms, is a gift of the Holy Spirit for those who take the spiritual life seriously.
Therefore, for the next several weeks, I want to share wisdom with you. I know it is presumptuous for me to name something as wise. But wisdom is like the color green. You know it when you see it. It is like the taste of chocolate ice cream. Very difficult to describe but you know it when you experience it.
A pastor, for whom I have tremendous respect, Jim Jackson, recently retired. He has begun to take Scripture, life experience, professional perspective, and a whole lot of pondering to create a set of “laws.” These are not legalistic practices but principles upon which God has created this earth. Just like the law of gravity, there are spiritual laws at work in this universe and Jesus was always speaking about them using the language of the Kingdom of God. This is how God has arranged this world to work at its best and reality is, as Dallas Willard says, what we run up against when we are wrong.
“Keep Your Mouth Shut”
The law of verbal conflict: If you stop to throw dirt clods at every dog that barks, you may never make it to town.
There is a time to engage in verbal fisticuffs – to object, to disagree, to express our opposition, to stand our ground. But most of the time we are better off keeping our mouth shut.
It is rare when anyone actually wins an argument. When we raise our voices, taunt people, saying unkind and disrespectful things, talking constantly and refusing to listen, we turn our opponents into an enemy instead of converts.
There is an old Southern saying that “If you stop to throw dirt clods at every dog that barks, you may never make it to town.” That being translated means, most of the time we would be better off holding our tongue and walking away.
A wise person once said….”the last part of the human body to be transformed by the grace of God is the tongue.” James, the brother of Jesus, says it this way….
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. 4 Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.
How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, 8 but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
Today…I am going to surrender my tongue to the grace and mercy of God. Will you join me? I want my tongue to bless and not curse. To love and not hate. To build up and not tear down. Remember…with God, all things are possible.