Saturday, February 9, 2008

I love to tell the story

You can read this post at Christian Women Online.

I love to gossip.

There, I have said it. Not just about anyone. I am not interested in any starlet's latest escapades or even if my neighbor is having an affair. It's even worse than that, because I love to dish on people I know well. There are a few people in my life who really irritate me. Not only that, but they have wronged me in the past. And boy, do I love to tell the story.

You too?

Long ago, I read this verse, James 1:26:

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

and whenever remember it, it scares the pants off of me. His religion is worthless? Worthless? That is such a strong word!

My religion is not my salvation. I belong to Christ. I was bought with a high price by the Son, and John 10:29 tells me that no one – not even my own self - is able to snatch me out of the Father's hand.

My “religion” is the reflection of my beliefs. It’s the way I live out my salvation here on earth; it’s how I respond to the amazing gift of grace that God has blessed me with. It’s how I present the love of the Father to those I come across...and talk to.

If Missy considers herself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on her tongue, she deceives herself and her religion is worthless.

Oh, y’all, can I be perfectly honest and admit I just don’t like this verse?

I have put years of prayer, bible study, and time into developing my "religion". I want the Lord to tell me that if I trash-talk someone, my religion is only watered down a little bit. Just slightly less effective. Maybe a turn-off to a couple of people who didn't really care for Jesus anyway. Yet James tells me that anytime I slander my neighbor, all of my time and effort to become holy is reduced to absolutely nothing. A big fat waste of mine and God's time.

Isaiah tells us in chapter 6 that when he saw the vision of the Lord on his throne, with all the angels worshiping him, crying "Holy, Holy Holy is the Lord of Hosts", the first thing that he said was, Oh, I am a man of unclean lips! Isaiah saw God in all his majesty and his burning urge was to was join in the singing. But his lips were unclean - he was not worthy.

Men often do not struggle with gossip, so maybe Isaiah had a problem with cursing, or maybe yelling at his children. We don't know. Whatever it was, he was unable to even praise the Lord until his lips were cleaned by burning hot coals. Before then, his religion was worthless.

I may know the exact formula to lead someone to Christ. I could be the greatest theologian, able to debate any point. I might be able to read the bible in Greek and Hebrew. Perhaps I could teach a lesson that would leave you weeping. I could spend hours on my knees, begging the Father to make me salt and light in this hurting world.

But if after all this, I tell you an unflattering tidbit about my
my husband, or my mom, mother-in-law, or my sister, my ex, or my acquaintance, my daughter’s teacher, or my son’s coach…instantly, it is all in vain. I am just another hypocrite in your eyes.

Oh, I don't want this to be so. I want to deceive myself, like James says I do. But I can't change the truth.

The only thing I can change is my tongue.

Lord, please teach me to tame my tongue to always glorify you, that my religion may be a worthy testimony of your great love for this world. Amen.



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