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July 23, 2014:  Is it my words or is it the intent behind the words that matters?
#walkworthy #whostartedit

Eph 4:31 “Let all…evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.

Words are extremely powerful, aren’t they? The things we say can impact people for a moment and sometimes for a lifetime. I learned recently that the Greek word “logos” means more than simply “word” as it is translated into English. It also means the thought, the concept, and the intent behind the word.

I wasn’t much of a “yeller” when I was raising my kids although my two youngest sons tried to help me become one! However, the fact that I seldom raised my voice didn’t mean I wasn’t serious. Neither did it mean every word that came out of my mouth was kind, and that’s still sometimes true. Angry people tend to say angry words, and I was and am no exception.

Those of us who love a prodigal have a lot to be angry about. Whatever dreams we had for our prodigals are lying in ashes around our feet. We’ve been lied to and about, cheated, betrayed, disappointed and stolen from. If they didn’t steal our material things or our money, they certainly stole our hope.

We’ve forgiven them multiple times only to have them repeat the offense. And they continue to show a brutal lack of concern that they are hurting us. In fact, they have purposely said rude, ugly things to us that are shocking in their cruelty. And this to the Mom or Dad who gave them life or the spouse they swore to love and cherish. How could we not be hurt and angry?

In Ephesians 4, Paul begins by admonishing us to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called.” (Eph 4:1) Before the chapter is finished, he has listed some things we need to lay aside if we’re going to “walk worthy” of the Lord Jesus Christ. One of those is “evil speaking…with all malice.” (Eph 4:31)

But, you might say, I don’t start these arguments! You have no idea how cruel my prodigal is or how hurt I am because of what he or she has said or done. Am I not allowed to defend myself when I’m attacked? That’s a fair question, isn’t it? But I’m pretty sure God’s response would be similar to what we used to say when our kids were fighting: “I don’t care who started it.”

Walking worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ extends to the words that come out of my mouth. There’s a significant problem if I can praise the Lord one minute and say vicious words to or about another person the next. And walking worthy almost certainly means I can’t say things with “the desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another.” That’s the meaning of malice.

It doesn’t mean we can’t set boundaries to protect ourselves. If someone is vicious to me on the phone, I can hang up. If I’m in their home and they are cruel, I can leave. If they are in my home and behaving inappropriately, I can tell them to leave. I can even take a break from communicating with them on FB, but I need to do all those things in a spirit of humility rather than with the intent of striking out.

In other words, I can say what I mean and mean what I say without saying it mean. And I can remind myself that sometimes “speaking the truth in love” means keeping my mouth shut. Saying things with the intent to hurt is one of the things I need to lay aside.

Challenge for Today: Can you, just for today, take a look at your words and the motive and intent behind those words?

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