Did I do that?

2 Samuel 23:2 “The Spirit of the LORD spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.”

Remember Steve Urkel?  The poor kid sure blew it a lot.  His famous line was, “did I do that?”  He broke stuff and said stuff that he probably wished he could do over.  Sometimes I wish I could have a do-over… especially in my conversations.  At times, I wish I would have been more compassionate or more bold or more gracious.  This darn tongue of mine seems to have a mind of its own!  I’m not going to beat myself over it, but I want to do something about it.  At the end of David’s life, he said these words: “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me; his word was on my tongue.”  Can I say that?

Let me tell you what happens when a question like that is posed.  The first thing we do is think about our failures.  I’m sure David failed.  He certainly said some things that weren’t the Lord’s word speaking through him.  He may have said some things that misrepresented God.  Even if he didn’t, he surely he said things like, “I have to go to the bathroom.”  What I am getting at is that we should be be striving to have the Word of the Lord on our tongue at all times but not to overspiritualize it. We should be striving to have the Spirit of the Lord speak through us, without getting caught in the perfection trap.

It isn’t about performance anyway; it’s about pursuit.  If we would just pursue Him with our whole lives we would find His words on our tongue.  He asks us to give Him our thoughts, our sins, our dreams, and our plans.  In exchange He gives us His thoughts, His righteousness, His dreams, and His plans.  That’s what I want!  I want all that He has to offer.  I want to say of my life that the Spirit of the Lord spoke through me – not just every once in a while, I want to be defined by that.  When others hear me speak, I want God’s heart to come out, not mine.  When others see my actions, I want them to see the hands and feet of Jesus.  It will require effort, but it can’t happen through my effort alone.  It will happen as I pursue Him, surrender my life, and allow His Spirit to live in me and through me.  Bring it on today, Lord.  I want all of YOU!

That just kills you twice

2 Samuel 2:14-16   14 Then Abner said to Joab, “Let’s have some of the young men get up and fight hand to hand in front of us.” “All right, let them do it,” Joab said.  15 So they stood up and were counted off—twelve men for Benjamin and Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve for David. 16 Then each man grabbed his opponent by the head and thrust his dagger into his opponent’s side, and they fell down together. So that place in Gibeon was called Helkath Hazzurim.  

My kids love watching an animated movie called “Bee Movie.” One of my favorite dialogues in the movie comes when Barry [the bee] has just messed up the planet real bad by stopping the work of bees completely.  Everyone is mad at him and his friend Vanessa [the human florist.]

Barry: How about a suicide pact?

Vanessa: How would we do it?

Barry: I’ll sting you, you step on me.

Vanessa: That just kills you twice.

It certainly would have been a stupid way to die for Barry.  Fortunately for him, Vanessa didn’t go through with it.  The guys in 2 Samuel, however, weren’t so fortunate – they died a stupid death.  Abner and Joab didn’t get along real well.  One of them was following David and the other was following Saul’s son.  So they decided to pick twelve guys from each side to fight and see who had the stronger team.  The twelve guys from each side simply stabbed each other at the same time and all 24 died.  Senseless, I tell you.  So now you’ve got 24 dead guys laying on the ground and nobody’s happy.  So they all break out in a fight.

Wasn’t there a better way to solve their issues than to start killing each other?  It seems like that’s what humanity’s gut reaction is to disagreement.  It has happened throughout all history.  This country is ticked off by this country so country A declares war on country B.  Death ensues and somebody loses a brother, a son, a husband, and a friend.

Before you get all bent out of shape, you should know this is not a commentary on war.  It is a commentary on our tendency to jump to a fight.  We do it without daggers and spears, too.  We do it with words.  Our husband says something we don’t like and speak out words like daggers.  He returns the dagger and you both die a little.  Why must we respond with death to the people we love?   Because even if you win the argument, damage has been incurred.  When we seek to destroy those who we love, it might hurt them… but it really does just kill you twice.

Hitting the target with your words

1 Samuel 3:19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 

When I was a teenager, I made the trek up to an Indian Reservation in Northern Canada to be a camp counselor.  The first time, I went with my youth pastor and some other teens.  The second time, I went with a friend of mine.  I’m sure I could have found a closer camp to be a counselor at, but it was worth the drive to have the experience with these kids.  We had so much fun those summers.  I remember how different the worship music was and how fun those kids were.  In fact, I believe this is where I led my first person to the Lord.  I was so nervous to lead someone in a prayer of salvation.

I also remember the bow and arrow contests we had.  As counselors, we were supposed to teach the kids to shoot an arrow.  The only problem: I wasn’t very good at it.  In fact, many of those kids put me to shame.  Maybe you remember the first time you tried to shoot at arrow from a bow.  You put the arrow in and get that string on there… you pull back and BAM!  The arrow falls to the ground at your feet.  At this point you are embarrassed and the target across the way seems to be laughing at you.  And there lies your poor arrow: far from the target, on the ground, waiting to be shot by an expert.

In 1 Samuel, it tells us that none of Samuel’s words fell to the ground. This picture of words falling to the ground is a picture of a rookie archer, an unskilled marksman.  It is like trying to shoot an arrow and having it land at your feet.  But this never happened to Samuel; his words always hit the target.  I wonder what it would be like to never have wasted words. Imagine not regretting what you just said.  That was the life of Samuel.  He was effective with his speech at all times.

I want to strive for the same thing.  I want my words to hit the mark, not fall to the ground.  So I guess there are two things I can do to give me a better success rate.  The first is kind of obvious, but not always realistic – think before I speak.  Is what I am saying life giving?  Will it hit the mark or be a bunch of babble?  Second and probably way more important – listen to the Lord.  If I just got His perspective before talking, I would probably have fewer words fall to the ground.  So are you with me?  Let’s give it a try and see what happens.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Ephesians 4:29 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.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  Undoubtedly, you have heard this phrase.  You have probably said it to your friends or your kids or your spouse.  It seems as though this phrase is taken right out of Ephesians 4:29.  And in many ways it is.  But I think there is a bit more to Paul’s statement.  After all, he doesn’t mention not saying anything at all.  Keeping quiet isn’t one of the options given here.

So what is unwholesome talk?  It is not simply, unkind words.  This word unwholesome refers to something that is rotten, corrupted, bad quality, or useless.  This covers a much wider range of words than just cuss words.  We think that unwholesome talk means, “don’t swear,” but that’s not what he is getting at.  Paul is actually telling the Ephesians that they shouldn’t be using their speech in a useless way.  Let’s continue with the word talk. This word is obviously about speech.  It covers words that are said, topics that are discussed, and even doctrine that is preached.  The point here is that we are not to waste our words on useless matters.  That would include arguing about stupid stuff.  It includes jokes in bad taste.  It includes putting someone down.  It  includes talking poorly about our husbands and our wives.  That’s all unwholesome talk.  Why? Because it doesn’t do anything beneficial.  It is wasted, useless words.

Instead, the stuff that comes out of our mouths should be speech that builds others up.  It should be life-giving words.  Are we accurate when speaking about God?  Are we kind when we are frustrated?  Do we say things about people that will benefit both them and others?  These are hard questions to respond to, but they are the questions that point us to using our mouths for life.  If we are going to builders, it must start with our mouths.  And if it is going to start with our mouths, it must first start in our minds.  And if it is going to start in our minds, it must first start in our hearts.  Check yours.  When gross stuff comes out of your mouth, ask God to show you your heart.  Once your heart is right, you can then be the builder that God wants you to be.