What did you say?

Very few things in life hold the power of words. We learned in elementary school that sticks and stone may break our bones but words will never hurt us. Lies! Physical injury is nothing compared to what one careless word can do. Words can tear someone’s life apart and they can also bring life to someone desperate of encouragement. Words can be a weapon when used with malice and ill content, or they can be a well of refreshment for the desperate hearted. 

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Think before you speak: It’s an age old saying and I’m sure most of us have been told that, maybe more than once. There could hardly be better advice. Every conversation can be an opportunity to course correct a life, and if we are not careful, it can send someone down a dangerous detour. People who say whatever comes to their mind generally hurt most people.

Proverbs 10:19 (NASB)

When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

Speak to benefit the listener not yourself: Trying to take back words  is like trying to get squeezed toothpaste back in the tube…it’s near impossible. It’s much better to be intentional about speaking life and truth, with grace and with love. If everything we say is meant to be helpful to those we talk to, then we won’t have any need to try and put the toothpaste back in the tube. 

Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

We all have an audience: You don’t have to be a pastor, teacher, coach, celebrity, or author in order to speak into people’s lives. For parents, there are always tingling little ears waiting to soke up our every word, even if it seems like they aren’t listening. And that never changes, no matter how old our children are. But it doesn’t stop there. For everyone who isn’t a recluse there are people listening to what we say. What are they hearing?

Psalm 19:14 (ESV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

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Bearing the Weight

I’ve spent a good portion of my life  exercising. Some of that has involved lifting weights. One thing that every weight lifter knows is that you can’t lift heavy weights with open hands. A person has to close their grip around the bar or dumbbell for optimal strength. 

Sometimes I think we treat life like lifting weights. So many things add heaviness to our hearts. Think about those heavy loads in your own life. They could be bills, a career, worries over your kids, the health of a loved one, or even the plight of sexual slavery all over the  world? Chances are it’s not just one thing. Life can get really, really heavy!

Unfortunately we wait to the point where we simply can’t bear it any more. We wait until our knees buckle beneath us. If the weight of life is so heavy that it is bringing you to your knees, there’s actually no better place to be.

I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.

-Abraham Lincoln

Part of going through life is to keep our hands open. What does that even look like? Holding loosely to possessions, careers, or our money? Maybe coming to terms with the fact that there is only one sovereign in the world and we aren’t Him? How about loving those close to us the best we can every single day because we just don’t know how many more we’ll get? It could be as simple as remembering that every meal we’ve ever had, and every warm roof we’ve lived under didn’t come from us but from a God who takes joy in taking care of us. It might be confiding in a friend and asking someone to pray with us. 

Holding on to things so tightly comes from a disposition of control. We keep our worries and struggles buried deep inside, because we feel as though we can carry them on our own. But no weight is meant to be carried alone.

In life, just as with weight lifting, we get to choose which weights we pick up. Even the smartest lifters have a spotter, because they know that at one point the weight may become too heavy to carry. Hopefully we have spotters in our friends and family, but if we don’t, we have a constant spotter, one who can actually do the heavy lifting for us. 

Maybe it’s time to begin more days on our knees rather than waiting until we utterly collapse. A humble life is one with open hands and bended knees. The God we serve once carried the greatest weight of all, our sins, and He did so that we wouldn’t have to any longer. 

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

1 Peter 2:24 (NIV)

He can handle the weight of our lives. More than that, He wants to! There is no weight limit or maxing out for God. He can take it all. 

“Pile your troubles on GOD ’s shoulders— he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭55:22 ‭(MSG‬)