Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Words: Life or Death

Welcome to Yes to God Tuesdays as I temporarily host for sweet Lelia the online study of Lysa Terkeurst's wonderful book, Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.

Chapter Nine "Corss My Heart and Close My Mouth"

Lysa shares that during the last few steps of childhood she had a secret. One she desperately wanted to share with Sally. Yet, she wondered if it would come back to bite her in the butt more or less. Sally proved faithful and trustworthy as she never shared Lysa's secret of her crush on...a...boy.

I've learned to be very cautious in what I share because I do fear that my words would be used against me as they have in the past.

"A friend who guards her words is a gift."

Trust. Loyalty. Secrets kept. Secret not shared.

Words. Spoken by a friend.
Lift up. Encouraged to achieve.
Tear down. Rendered powerless.

Lysa admits this to be one of the most challenging issues when becoming more than a good Bible study girl. It is this exact topic that is such an important lesson Jesus teaches us. A new command I give you: love one another. As I loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35

No choice. No option. A command. Not a little. Not some. Not when I want. Love as I have loved. And He loved to the Cross.

"For others to meet the reality of Jesus in our lives, we must be women of carefully chosen words. What comes out of our mouths is a tell tale sign of who we are, who we serve, and what we truly believe." Wow...that makes me really consider my every word, every gesture, every action.

So what does this mean? What does it require of us? A conviction in our heart and a denial of temptation in our teeth. Lysa shares it requires us to:
♥ Refuse to gossip
♥ Choose not to judge
♥ Be secure in our unique calling

Lysa wrote of how her friend, Holly, gave her a priceless gift. "She committed to me that she would never say anything dishonoring about me. It was more than just a commitment to me; it was a covenant promise she'd made with God." This verbalized commitment led the way to build a "beautiful trust rare between women." And if you have this trust with any female friends, hang onto it with dear life never letting it go.

"Gossip. Hurtful. Careless. Alluring. Easy to slip into. Hard to walk away from."

"If we just assume we won't be tempted to gossip, we are fooling ourselves and potentially setting ourselves up for trouble." The Bible teaches us many things about our words. James speaks a lot about our words including the infamous passage about our tongues in James 3. Lysa says three crucial rules taught in the Bible are put to action when we "verbalize to a friend that she can trust we will never betray her."

1~ Guard your tongue to keep out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23)
2~ Limit your words to be wise. (Proverbs 10:19)
3~ Use your words to validate your relationship with the Lord, not negate it.
"I've found that the fewer the words I speak, the more intentional I can be with the words I do say."

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26

"If we don't keep a keen watch on our words, we appear like hypocrites whose Jesus does not work." Ouch is right.

Uncontrolled thoughtless conversation. I feel like there is a sense of lack of control because my brain doesn't have time to fully process before speaking. I believe this is why I am such a better written communicator. The time it takes to write/type is enough for me to process. I'm not one that has to proof, re-read, and change. (I rarely do.) I don't mean to portray that my words and conversations are careless, negative, or destructive. Rather, just rambling and not as tight a ship as my perfectionist mind would like.

"We can say nothing but still harbor a judgmental spirit, and being judgmental is often what fuels gossip in the first place."

Melanie Chitwood of Proverbs 31 Ministries wrote this: "I've been thinking lately about how easy it is to judge others or to think I have the answers for them...In a nutshell, I can be self-righteous, just like the Pharisees. God is challenging me to examine my spoken and unspoken judgments of others. He wants us to come alongside others and help carry their burdens, rather than add to them with our criticism."

While looking for a verse I had in mind (Galatians 2), I found this one, poignantly relating to Melanie's references of the Pharisees. Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Luke 11:26

It is so very easy to judge and not even realize it's a judgment: an assumption that what another person is doing is wrong. It is the 'should' statements. She should do that. She should not allow that. She should be this. It is what we think is right or wrong. We have to choose to not judge. We have to "refuse to be judgmental and rain down love instead."

Though the Pharisees adherence to God's law is admirable, with that obeying they judged harshly and loved little. Judging is sinning. The Pharisees did it. We do it. Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of saw dust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:1-3

We can judge in our hearts without it ever being spoken or shared. That infraction is no different and causes the same end result from God. Lysa shares how we can try to disguise judgment as just being boldly honest with someone. Yet, we have to earn that privilege to be boldy honest and have a level of friendship that can handle it. Lysa says it best about her friendship with Renee Swope. "We've made so many positive deposits in each other's lives that we have room for constructive criticism without the threat of bankrupting our friendship."

"When we are truly humble, we are less likely to be judgmental."

Lysa shares how an encounter with a friend at the grocery store began hurtful but resulted in security of her calling. Lysa told the friend she needed to help her child with a project because she'd be away at a conference. The friend's tone changed and she said "I don't know how you can possibly be okay with leaving your kids like that." Twist knife, jab harder, and pull out. I recall Lysa sharing this on her blog and how I hurt with her. To be judged and condemned for what God has called and equipped one to do.

I'm so very thankful such comments never deterred Lysa. Rather, such comments gave her yet another real life story to share with us and help us to grow. She is such a huge, huge blessing to so many. Listen to what Jesus says and revealed to Lysa that day. I tell you the truth no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much. Luke 18-29-30.

Though Lysa may have wanted to blast "grocery-store judgment" woman and call her "meanie head" (in her heart only, of course), she chooses to call her "sister".

"As long as you are in the place God has called you and He's using you, then rest secure in that and let other's criticisms roll of your back...hard to do...but...freeing."

I'm so trying to do that and have God be my confidence and not seek it from anyone else. Though, my flesh does enjoy a little encouragement and signs of confirmation that I've understood His calling correctly.

"Be the kind of friend you desperately want. God will eventually honor your desire." Liz commented on my this post, "All I can do is be the best friend I know how to be and let God take care of the rest."

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. Ephesians 4:29 This verse has been on my list to memorize. Maybe the inclusion of it in this chapter will be the light to my fire to do it.

"We are uniquely designed to be drawn to certain people in friendship." I need to remember this as I struggle wondering if 'she' likes me and why we aren't as close friends as she is with 'her'. We aren't all designed to be bffs to each other. We aren't all designed to be great friends with every Sally, Joan, and Mary.

"A landmark UCLA study suggests friendships between women are special. They shape who we are and who we are yet to be. They soothe our tumultuous inner world, fill the emotional gaps in our marriage, and help us remember who we really are."

I would be so encouraged to hear your thoughts and read your comments. If you have more to say on this please use MckLinky and add your site.

This post is much longer than my normally long posts. However, there was so much good stuff in this chapter that I could not selfishly keep it to myself. (I even chose to cut out a few paragraphs.)

Cross my heart, close my mouth, I promise to love and honor you,

© Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.


Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith said...

Amazing post and this was a very challenging chapter to read; Many times I put it down due to remember being on the other side of hurtful words and remembering how it was more difficult as a new Christian dealing with hurtful words, because it made me stop and go "Is this what being a Christian was about"?.

Praise our Father for His stubbornness to let me go that easy as I grew in my walk and learned that we are all human and prone to stumble but how important we watch how we interact, talk, walk with others;I'm so grateful He brought other people in my life,whose lives and actions bore testimony to their walk and help me learn and I'm still learning though I find myself stumbling at times.

When Lysa shared the story by Elizabeth who said that we "eat our own", I dropped the book with an almost gasp. It was a reminder of I think it was a church sign or joke that said something like,"Save me from your believers".

Very convicting and challenging chapter that is an encouragment at the same time.

Heather said...

I would have loved to joined this study... but just couldn't do it this time, what with work and all. It is so great you were able to take over for Lelia so that she could step back for a bit and so the study could keep going!

Hopefully things will settle down here eventually, but for now, I need to focus on family and work. The rest it getting to be too much!

Thanks for stopping by!
God bless,

Laura said...

Awesome post, Paula. Wow, there is a lot of information here. This is one near and dear to my heart. The thing that touched me most was the promise Holly made to Lysa. Shouldn't we all take that oath to one another? Sigh. Guilty of being on both ends. Thanks for challenging me to recommit to watching my words.

BTW, my new blog is a freebie! Still working on it though. I lost all my links and stuff and it's taking time to get back. But, I feel all Christmassy now!

andi said...

Love the part: a friend who guards her words is a gift...
No used sucker sticks for me please!!! :)
LOL! Have a great Wednesday!

Erin said...

This post was just awesome.

LisaShaw said...

Very informative and full with nuggets of good truth for us all. Thanks for sharing!

Blessings to you sis.

Jennifer said...

What a great and convicting post! To think that the tongue has so much power. May God help us to remember that fact.