"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility!" From where have most of you become acquainted with this popular saying? Spiderman, of course! This quote actually surfaced in a Spidey Comic way back in 1962. But the saying goes much farther back than Spiderman. Possibly as far back as The French Revolution, when The French National Convention was elected to provide a new constitution after the overthrow of the monarch in 1792, and comparable quotes were given by several powerful leaders since then, including Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. But in reality, this quote goes much farther back, to a much Wiser Source: Luke 12:48.
With that quote in mind, Scriptures have overwhelmingly repeated an area where every one of us has unbelievable power—thus, a great deal of responsibility—which we take very lightly. Proverbs 18:21. There are so many verses concerning our use of the tongue for good and bad [That I could almost literally spend an entire sermon quoting them]: Proverbs 21:23; Matthew 15:11; Psalm 141:3; Proverbs 12:6; Proverbs 12:18-19; Proverbs 15:1-2; 1 Peter 3:10. When God sees fit to repeat something once in Scriptures, it is wise to take special note. If It is repeated this many times—what level of importance do you think God puts upon the subject? We have spent a couple of weeks looking at the growing threat to our church through outside persecution—it is real and scary—but one of the greatest casualties to Christ's Bride often comes from within, not without. Throw away what you have seen and learned from our culture today, and listen closely for a moment. We all have become so narcissistic and spoiled in this society that our use of words reflects our hearts. We assume, as the world does, that we are so special—whatever we feel, whatever we think—must be spoken out loud at any cost because our feelings and opinions are the wisest and most important—and “I deserve to be heard”. But too often in our desire to say whatever we feel and share our great opinions, we do countless, serious damage to those around us, leaving ripples of destruction that we cannot comprehend. James 3:3-12: We so often see our comments, our criticisms, our little gossips, our sarcasms as small and insignificant vents. We disguise hurtful words as jokes and wit, drawing self-satisfaction or pride from our cleverness. We spread words of destruction that may or may not be true, often never even considering the proof before igniting them. We misrepresent others to lift up or justify ourselves. We criticize with the sole intention of causing pain, not in order to grow or correct, as we should. We give completely ungodly advice based on our own preferences or moral grounds. God's Words say that every time we use words carelessly and hurtfully, we literally become a weapon of Satan. Just as a small rudder steers a ship, every hurtful or edifying word slightly changes the course of someone's life. Words create emotion and thought processes, which in turn create attitudes and choices, which in turn create habits and lifestyles, which completely shape people's views of themselves, others, and God. People have had their entire self-image saved or completely destroyed by a few words from friends or family. Cutting, harsh peer groups have unknowingly broken self-esteems. Parents have formed or ruined hearts and minds with their words before a child had a chance to form a defense. Spouses can completely alter the disposition and security of their mates with every simple word uttered: Proverbs 15:4. How many suicides have occurred because of thoughtless, ignorant words carelessly spoken? How many people have quit, walked away, been discouraged, or had their life direction changed because of gossip, slander, or criticism? Proverbs 12:18. How many people have been seriously affected because someone gave worldly advise out of pride and ignorance, never consulting or caring about God's Word in the matter? Sometimes to justify your own way of living? Mark 9:42. How many reputations have been tarnished or destroyed over bitter lies started or ignorant passing of unproven garbage? Proverbs 16:26-28; Proverbs 18:8. How many churches and ministries have been severely damaged due to uncontrolled, unconfirmed, and improperly handled accusations because someone was more worried about self-justification or revenge, than they were honoring God and finding truth? 1 Timothy 5:19. How many people have left a bloody trail of hurt as they constantly feel they must prove the superiority of their intellect and abilities with cutting words to others at any cost?
Yet, on the other side of this, is the unfathomable ability to heal, give courage, and renew hope when some are totally defeated. Courage to change, to go on, to try the impossible can be given with a few words. Entire lives have changed direction because of a few encouraging words. Jobs have been taken, tasks completed, literal battles won because of encouraging words. Hebrews 10:24. And lastly, how many souls have been won or lost to Jesus Christ, because of the pain, or comfort that someone's words reflected to an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 2:14. Do your words spread the “Fragrance” of Him?
So, let's take just a few moments to see how we can separate ourselves from the overwhelming victory Satan is having in causing us to use our words to hurt one another, and learn how God intends for us to use one of the most powerful weapons we have been given for a powerful good. 1) We must understand the incredibly powerful influence each and every word we speak can have on others. Words are even more dead than a loaded gun; we must stop playing with them. We must stop feeling that we have the right to say anything that comes to mind (Peter to the lord—“Satan”: Matthew 16:23) Stop feeling like we can use humor and sarcasm to constantly cut at one another. Stop speaking condescendingly to others to promote ourselves. Stop lashing out in anger and self-satisfaction. Stop spreading any rumors about another person, true or not. Stop listening to others who are speaking about another person without them present. Stop correcting others with harshness and malice. Just because you are right, smarter or more skilled in something, gives no right to speak rudely, sarcastically or condescendingly. Stop using smooth words to manipulate people into your will, rather than facing truth, or helping others: Proverbs 20:19. We must always be aware, not only of the truth when we speak, but of how that truth may be spoken in such a way as to grow, correct, and encourage a person to do better. We must be just as concerned for the heart of the person, as we are the truth being conveyed, otherwise we are correcting in apathy and pride, rather than in the true desire to help another person in love. Isaiah 50:4; Colossians 4:6; Ephesians 4:29. That does not mean that you may not have to sometimes be tough or harsh in a conversation or discipline. Sometimes Scriptures demand that you be extreme or hard on a person who is in the church, yet lives purposefully against Christ and the church. Listen to Paul reprimand the church for not powerfully dealing with one who is arrogantly sinning in the church (the church seems proud of their tolerance, until Paul addresses them): 1 Corinthians 5:2, 4-7. Paul writes to Titus about similar circumstances: Titus 3:10-11. But even in dealing with someone like this, you still show their worth to you and God in the process, not just purposefully degrade or belittle. Let love and genuine concern for others govern how you speak to them rather than emotion or pride. 2) Weren’t everything through the, "Filter of Truth" when we hear other's words against us, so that we may filter out those things which do not belong inside of our hearts and minds. Here's how the filter works: regardless of what the world says you should be, do, act like, or look like; regardless of what enemies, friends, family, or spouses say about you: put it through God’s Filter: Is it all about their preferences or God's? If theirs, filter it. If God's, fix it and move on. Does it contrast my position as an awesome creation of God? (As far as degrading or criticizing) If so, filter it and love them through their misguided ignorance. If you are obedient to God, and if you are confident in His Love and Wisdom in creating you, let all else get stuck in the, "Filter of His Word!" 3) If you constantly have to belittle or criticize others; if you constantly gossip or speak unkindly behind another's back; if you constantly speak arrogantly or harshly to others; if you exaggerate, lie or misrepresent truth in your life or others—for attention or self-justification—; if you give ungodly advise to others in their lives; if you smoothly use words to manipulate people into your will, rather than to exhort them and help them: your words are a literal, direct flow from your heart—your real heart: Matthew 12:33-35. Take responsibility right now for the words you are using. Based on your words right now, what is the condition of your heart? Does your use of words reveal that you are driven with genuine love and concern for others, or that you are concerned only with making your thought, feelings and opinions known at any cost? That you are concerned with using words to get your way—justify yourself—or live as you want?
We all have to realize something: we are wasting and abusing the most powerful tool we have been given to do God's work: Luke 12:48. We are going to be held accountable for every single word we use, whether for good or bad: Matthew 12:36-37. Our words shape the lives of those around us. Scriptures tell us that we cannot tame our own tongue. Pray for the Spirit’s power to control your words. Become conscious of how you are using your words. Use your words in the wisdom of His Scriptures. Use your words with love and concern for others first.
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