“What comes out of your mouth in times of trouble? What does your heart think and your mouth say when your plan is obstructed or simply falls flat? How do you respond when people fail you or don’t do their part? What do you say in moments of frustration and disappointment? How do you respond when you face the totally unexpected? How do you react toward those who seem to stand in the way of your schedule and plans? How do you respond when your brightest ideas and best efforts fall apart? How do you react to trials that don’t seem to be your fault? Do your words acknowledge the sovereign plan of God over all of your circumstances for your sanctification?”
Do you feel the sting of conviction like I did the first time I read these pummeling questions from Paul Tripp’s book “War of Words”? If I’m honest and let the questions really sort through my justifications and excuses to get to the root of my words, I find that my words need help. My heart needs help. Some serious surgery help. You with me?
The past two weeks I can see how God is honing in on my tongue and the words I choose to let loose into the world. Two weeks ago, Thomas had ACL/MCL surgery on his knee and we’ve been adjusting to life post-op. All of my life, I’ve been on the other side of our dynamic. I’ve always been the patient who’s medicine is regulated and every need seen about by another (my lovely mother). My role has shifted 180 degrees and now I structure my day based on Thomas’s needs. It’s a beautiful living out of our wedding vows – mostly.
But on days where I don’t feel appreciated (even if I am), or I can’t do what I’d like to because I drive Thomas to his appointments, or my idea for the evening loses it’s excitement in the mix of pain killers and ice packs… my words reveal a sick heart. Because as my world seemingly revolves around Thomas’s schedule, I find that my words and thoughts really revolve around only one person — me.
If I’m real about what goes on inside my heart — it’s not pretty. I’m not the “perfect” nurse-wife who, I imagine, selflessly sees to her hurt husband’s every need. I whine. I complain. I manipulate. My words sneak out of my self-centered heart and grumble through dinner.
James 3 says, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.“
James makes it pretty clear that our words are out of our control. As hard as we try to tame them, we can’t. These past two weeks I’ve been reminded that my words are a reminder that I don’t have a surface deep problem. No, I have a heart deep problem.
My words well up from a sinful heart that is more concerned with my agenda than God’s.
See, when I grumble about being Thomas’s caregiver I am in essence complaining in God’s face. I’m whining that God in His great love and mercy chose me, and that He is putting me in this situation to make me holy. Trials and suffering are tokens of God’s amazing grace, given to us to deliver us from the power of remaining sin!
Knowing that God chose Thomas’s surgery for me, specifically for me, helps me to grasp my situation with stronger arms. Instead of feeling like a leaf in a storm, I’m grounded in God’s good plans. When we accept that our suffering and trials, that frustrating person at work or disappointing news are instruments of God’s specific design to graciously make us more into His image, our words are transformed.
As we acknowledge God’s rule in our hearts and rule in our lives: Thankfulness springs up in the place of bitterness. Faith tromps over fear and worry. Joy quiets the snarl of spite. Hope triumphs discouragement.
God’s plan to sanctify our hearts and lives involves teaching us to carry around a God-centered perspective. His plan to redeem our hearts and lives wraps itself fully in the Word becoming flesh.”The Word has come and brought with Him everything we need to live a life of godly talk. Christ has come to tame what man will never tame. He has come to endow us with glorious riches and incomparable power so that our tongues can be used as his instruments of righteousness. Our world of talk does not have to be a world of trouble for this one reliable reason: the Word has come.” -War of Words