12″So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:12-14
I was struggling with what my devo would be this week. I haven’t had much time lately to read my book, so I had nothing new there. Well, I have my topic and I’m preaching to me. Today was an okay day. It’s Monday and cold…can’t really be that great. Towards the end of my day I found out I got blamed for a practical joke in which I did not participate. I decided to give the girl who indirectly implicated me a hard time…actually there were several of us. Turns out she really thought we were all mad at her and she started crying because she was embarrassed. I immediately felt like a giant tool (can you say “tool” in a devotion?). The group of us apologized profusely and we all had a good laugh (including the girl who was crying) about it, but I left work with a nagging feeling…or perhaps it was more like a bullhorn in the ear. Conviction was setting in.
I think one the main reasons to memorize Scripture is so that it can be recalled to help in times of trouble. I also believe the Holy Spirit uses those memorized texts to convict us of our sin. Ephesians 5:4 was blaring in my ears:
4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Earlier Paul writes in 4:29
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Wow, I have a ways to go. James does not have nice things to say about the tongue. He says it is set on fire by hell (3:6) and calls it a “restless evil, full of deadly poison (3:8).” Jesus said that out of the depths of my heart, my tongue speaks. Things are not looking good for me. I have this uncontrollable tongue, a restless evil, that is speaking from my heart. O God, save me from myself!
Thankfully, he has. Perhaps your saying, “JC, you were just joking. Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Now Solomon is mocking me.
18Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death 19is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I am only joking!” – Proverbs 26
Now I am a crazed madman reigning down death. Ugh!
So why should you care? I think we have a tendency to mess around with people a lot. We like to screw with each other and make jokes and comments. I guess my encouragement to us would be to watch our joking. Our talk should build others up! They should not be torn down by our negative speech. Let us enter the narrow gate and treat our neighbors how we expect to be treated.