News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Religion

July 4, 2014

THE JOY LADY: Do we use words for building up or tearing down?

TERRE HAUTE — Over the years, I have learned a thing or two.

I have learned that cats are not fond of being imprisoned in the microwave, even if they are placed there by an impossibly precocious 4-year-old who just wanted to see the feline “ride round and round on that glass plate in the middle.” (Thankfully, I saved the cat from implosion!)

I have learned that the hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread. And if the butter is especially hard, i.e. just coming from the refrigerator, even toasted bread does not melt the butter appropriately.

I have learned that dogs should never be trusted to watch your food while you answer the door. I have learned that I would be more willing to make mistakes if only someone else would volunteer to do the learning from my mistakes. I have learned that if you force your child to clean his plate, then you should not be surprised when that child develops a weight problem before he is finished with puberty. I have learned that it is not a career I have always wanted. It’s the paycheck.

Back (way back) when I was in school, I learned that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Since then, I have learned that for every action from any given person, there is an equal and opposite criticism from any given multitude of people.

I don’t mean to be critical. Not at all. But it’s hard not to notice critical people. They are all around us. Their harsh words and criticism cut sharply into the hearts of those they criticize. Criticism wounds and scars far more than fists or knives ever could. Criticism cuts through bone and marrow right into a person’s soul.

The critical spirit that gives birth to the critical tongue comes from the things we store up in ourselves. In Matthew 15:17-18, Jesus said, “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.”

So what should be our “equal and opposite” reaction to urges to be critical? The Bible gives us a few ideas along that line. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 we read, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” James 3:9,10 says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”

Do our words encourage or discourage? Are they harsh words or healing words? Do our words show how loving we are or how unloving we are? Do we spend more time criticizing others than we do building others up? Do both praise and criticism come from our mouths? My brothers, this should not be.

Verna Davis, speaker and writer, may be reached at vrdspeaks@ yahoo.com.

 

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