How Would You Like To Be Spoken To?
How would God have us speak to one another?
You know. Of course you do. You know exactly how God would have us speak to one another. I know too. My mother was very clear. And so was Jesus, and Paul, and Peter, and John— all those guys.
We need to be kind. Gentle. Truthful yet always loving. We need to speak in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. We need to speak Life into the lives of those around us, just as we shed Light into the space we occupy. We need to respond patiently. None of this is in our Old Self. We need to put on the New Self daily!
Most of all, we really need to consult the Holy Spirit before we speak.
In the Celtic Daily Prayer, one of the prayers I especially love is this:
“Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
Be in the mouth of each who speaks to me.”
As I read this Lenten Devotional from Biola (http://ccca.biola.edu/lent/2021/#day-mar-8), I was struck by how seldom we take any of these admonitions to heart prior to opening our mouths. How often to I speak without thinking, hurt someone in an attempt to sound smart or funny, put myself above someone else.
When I speak, my goal is too often to persuade the other person to see something my way—the "right" way— without first consulting the Holy Spirit about the woefully sinful condition of my own heart.
Do you have that problem?
Welcome to the club.
Sometimes I get stuck, comfortable in my own space— the little nest I have built around myself to be sure I am insulated from the world and God’s desire to have me grow. I resist change and correction, wanting to stay in a space where life is predictable and “good enough”.
Fortunately, that is rarely what God has in mind for me.
I may have managed to stay there for a long time, happy to just sit in my own satisfaction, but eventually the Still Small Voice speaks my name, raps on the door of my heart, getting increasingly louder until I have a choice— I can stay where I am and become deaf to Him…. or I can begin to listen.
Listening isn’t comfortable, and obedience requires that I leave my nest behind and Follow Him. It’s not easy to do, but it’s necessary for Life.
We always have the same choice:
To remain dead in our sins,
To take up the Cross He offers us that leads to Life.
It’s an ongoing process. It doesn’t stop at any particular age or stage of life. He will always lead us closer to Union and Oneness with Him... if we will just choose to follow.
The blue type below is a “reprinting” of the March 8 Biola Lenten Devotional. (http://ccca.biola.edu/lent/2021/#day-mar-8)
I just had to share it.
The poet acted as a mirror for me to see what God might see.
The devotional writer spoke directly to my heart.
Maybe they will do this for you as well.
Oh Lord, how You love us. Give us ears to hear and eyes to see our own hearts, what you have in mind for us, and the loving manner in which you speak to us.
Possible Answers to Prayer
by Scott Cairns
Your petitions—though they continue to bear
just the one signature—have been duly recorded.
Your anxieties—despite their constant,
relatively narrow scope and inadvertent
entertainment value—nonetheless serve
to bring your person vividly to mind.
Your repentance—all but obscured beneath
a burgeoning, yellow fog of frankly more
conspicuous resentment—is sufficient.
Your intermittent concern for the sick,
the suffering, the needy poor is sometimes
recognizable to me, if not to them.
Your angers, your zeal, your lip smackingly
righteous indignation toward the many
whose habits and sympathies offend you—
these must burn away before you’ll apprehend
how near I am, with what fervor I adore
precisely these, the several who rouse your passions.
The Standard Love Requires
‘You shall love the Lord your God...You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Sin hidden beneath a veneer of carefully calculated discipline is dangerous—because so often we look at our lives while God examines our hearts.
Our behavior, in our estimation, may look “pretty good,” sanitized by the social rewards of being generally agreeable, understanding, and honest. But beneath the surface, our sinfulness becomes obvious in our posture toward other people. A cursory inspection of our hearts proves the piercing insight of Jesus correct.
I nurture unforgiveness, cultivating it into bitterness. I shift blame before I even stand accused. I expect my brother to repay my good deeds—with interest—in gratitude and devotion. I become curt in the face of inconvenience and dismissive in the face of polarized disagreement. I go to great trouble to deceive myself into believing that I am good.
But I am not.
And the attitude of my heart leaks, as Jesus knows it will, into my actions. Watch me fail to hold the gaze of the image bearer requesting money for a meal. Listen to the off-handed, disparaging comments I make about the neighbor who has given me some small cause for annoyance. Note the way I shoulder past my loved one’s need to be seen in my quest to be right. Hear me condemn the person who has wronged and wounded me, sounding more like the Accuser than the Advocate.
In the searching eyes of Christ, the veneer is stripped away. The great distance between what I do and what I ought to do is revealed as untraversable. But within this seemingly impossible standard of neighbor-love, there is a measure of hope. It has a source. I am called to be perfect like my Father.
My Father loves even his enemies with perfect love.
He does not withhold sunshine from the evil. His goodwill, unlike that of the world, is not limited to those who seek to please him. He guides my attention to the people I am prone to regard with disgust, vindictiveness, and apathy. “Love precisely these,” he commands, “For I fervently adore them.”
And the One who relays this standard on the Mount will soon be tried against it in the most strenuous of circumstances. Struck by the whip, he will offer his hands to receive the nails. He will surrender his garments. He will walk through jeering crowds and ascend another hill, followed closely by his cross. And as his life steadily ebbs, he will cry for forgiveness for his persecutors.
But not yet. Now, the One who will bear all sin first makes clear its gravity. He who takes great compassion on the human heart dispels any illusion about its depravity. He who will be crucified by sinful men forbids harm against brother and enemy alike with the intensity of a Father protecting his children, of a Creator who cherishes his image-bearers.
He issues again the command to love, knowing exactly what love costs.
I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed by what I have done and what I have left undone. I have not loved you with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I am truly sorry and humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, forgive me, that I may delight in your will and walk in your way, to the glory of your name.
Lord, in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Alumna of Biola University and the Torrey Honors College
Content Creation Specialist at Michael Hyatt & Co.
Cindy Harris ~ firstname.lastname@example.org