It all goes back to what my mother taught me when I was little: if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. After much prayer, I firmly believe that God is calling me to fast during Lent — to fast words that do not glorify His Kingdom.
If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. James 1:26 (NLT)
Words of gossip, deceit, exaggeration, and anger do absolutely nothing to contribute God’s Kingdom and I have cozied up to all of them at one time or another and done it often, at that. When I was deciding what to “sacrifice” for the Lenten season, I was thinking caffeine, Taco Bell crunchy tacos, chocolate, or a host of other physical sacrifices. Then I felt God speak a word over me and we had a conversation that went something like this:
God: I’d rather have some spiritual fasting, Sandy.
Me: You mean, more prayer? How about some scripture memorization? I’m already on that one. Did you see the brightly colored index cards on my kitchen cabinets? I wrote scripture all over those bad boys!
God (shaking His head): No, I mean give up your mean and nasty words. Don’t you realize how much you damage your influence in my Kingdom when you engage in words that are demeaning to others and yourself?
Me: I don’t think I’m strong enough to do that. I know I’m going to fail miserably. What if I fail you?
God: Ask for My forgiveness (or the forgiveness of someone else, if you involve them) and then start over. You may fail Me, but I will not fail you.
And how could I argue with that? That week before the start of Lent, in our women’s Bible study, God brought me this word of encouragement:
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9 (NLT)
Just so God could hammer it home to me, I saw this posted on a friend’s Facebook page:
THINK Before You Speak!
T – Is it TRUE?
H – Is it HELPFUL?
I – Is it INSPIRING?
N – Is it NECESSARY?
K – Is it KIND?
This is the tenth day of Lent. To be honest, I’ve started over at least once a day, and truthfully, often more than that. That may not sound like a great track record, but the fact that I’m catching myself when I start speaking in defeat is a victory in itself.
Pray for me, you righteous people. Pray for my victory and I will pray for yours! I’m not only watching my weight, I’m also watching my words. I want to be the sweetest-speaking skinny person that you’ve ever met! I want a healthy heart, a healthy body, and a healthy spirit. Feel free to ask me how I’m doing! It will be an encouragement on my journey.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 (NLT)
“Is Jesus Christ Lord of Your Tongue? Control Your Tongue or Destroy Your Life” http://goodnessofgodministries.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/is-jesus-christ-the-lord-of-yoru-tongue-control-your-tongue-or-destroy-your-life/
“The Tongue/Power of Words” http://onethirstandhunger.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/the-tonguepower-of-words/
“Communication: To HEAL or HURT?” http://youaretheoneiwant.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/communication-to-heal-or-hurt/