Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When You're Hurting

All of us have been through something that hurt our hearts. Perhaps it was a crushing break-up, a messy divorce (and aren't they all?), the loss of a loved one, or a disappointment that cut deep. Whatever your hurt, we have a great Comforter in our Heavenly Father.

I recently did a scripture dissection of Philippians 2:14-15, and I'd like to do something similar with Psalm 34:17-19. The Bible says,
"The righteous cry out and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
As a child of God, you have certain privileges. When we cry out to God during our darkest hour, He...

  • HearsHebrews 4 tells us that we have a High Priest that allows us to come before the throne of God boldly because He (our High Priest) experienced being human and can therefore intercede on our behalf. Romans 8:26 tells us that the Spirit will make intercession for us when we don't even know what we should go before the throne of God with! 1 Peter 5:7 tells us we can cast ALL of our cares on God. These are great privileges made possible through Jesus and His blood! 
  • Delivers - 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that God will make a way of escape in every single temptation. Deliverance from our trials is always there, we simply have to look for it. In another, more lasting way, Joel prophesied that deliverance would come in Jerusalem, and we know that the fulfillment of that prophecy was the establishment of the church in Acts 2. Thus we know that God will give us a home in heaven free from all troubles if we will take advantage of the deliverance available through the church. 
  • Is Near - There aren't a lot of verses more comforting to me than James 4:8. If we draw near to God, He draws near to us. When we cry out and long for closeness with our Father, He draws near to us. 
  • Saves - Somtimes I think that because we are so familiar with John 3:16 we don't let it soak in. But think about it slowly right now: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. There are so many things in this verse that are incredible. First, God gave His Son. That is huge. And why did He do it? He obviously didn't have to. No, He did it because He doesn't want us to perish. God wants us all to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). He is an all-powerful, almighty being that doesn't need us at all, but He loves us and therefore wants us to be in heaven with Him. When things are going wrong in every possible way, know that you are lobes so much by the only One that matters. Know that He sacrificed for you so that you don't have to perish. 
Nothing this life has to offer is more than we can bear. Heaven will make everything--every hurt, every struggle, every trial, every heartache--worth it. But know this: God has made it possible, but the choice is ours. When we're hurting, we can either turn to God or blame Him. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

What Are We Doing?

"Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful." 1 Cor. 4:1-2
As stewards of God, it is required that we be found faithful. That isn't a suggestion for our lives, it is imperative. We must remain faithful in order to receive eternal life (Revelation 2:10b). What does it mean to be faithful, though? If it is so crucial to our salvation, we need to know exactly what it means.

Jesus gave us a pretty clear picture in Matthew 24:45-46:
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing."
A "faithful and wise" servant is one that the master finds doing work when he comes. In the same way, faithful Christians will be those that the Lord finds working when He comes. And so, the title of this post comes to light: what are we doing?

Unless we are working when the Lord comes (or we face death), we will not be found faithful. Since no one knows the hour that Jesus will return (Matt. 24:36), we must be constantly working so that whenever that time does come--we are found faithful. So let's examine some practical things we can be doing so that we can be found faithful:

  • Evangelize: Jesus told us to spread the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). If we heed Jesus' own words, surely we will be found faithful when He comes. If we are engaging frequently in personal Bible studies, mission campaigns, and conversations where we are telling someone else about our Savior, we are surely pleasing our God and our Savior. 
  • Help the Needy: Jesus told a story about the judgment in Matthew 25. He said that the judgment will be characterized by the things we did or did not do for others (v 31-46). If we are spending our time feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and ministering to those in prison, we are doing those things to our Lord. 
  • Give: Paul admonished the brethren in Corinth to abound in the grace of giving (2 Cor. 8:1-7). Be the type of person who is characterized by the way they give. Not simply giving when you have abundance, but give when it isn't easy. That is what Paul says is commendable. Give to those who are in need, yes, but also give to the church to further to cause of Christ. 
  • Teach: Paul encouraged the older men and women to teach the younger ones (Titus 2:1-6). If you are an older individual, make time to teach. The Lord needs those who are willing to share His message and to encourage those who may be weaker or less knowledgeable. 
  • Make Peace. Being a peacemaker isn't easy, and it isn't an idle work. Romans 14:19 tells us to pursue the things which make for peace. Those things must be sought-after! Peace doesn't just happen, especially when wrongs have been committed. Things do not simply blow over. Egos do not simply deflate. Instead, the Lord has instructed His people to be the ones who pursue that peace, and thus make the world and better and brighter place. 
Perhaps if we can busy ourselves with these works (and countless others), we can all be found faithful when the Lord comes back to receive His own. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: True Love vs. Tolerance

Can you love someone too much to tell them the truth of God's word? Can you love someone so much that you accept their actions no matter what kind of soul-endangering situation they are in? Can you love someone so much that you let them think that they are "fine" when in reality, their soul is heading down a broad, destructive path toward Hell?

Tolerance is defined as "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, etc. differ from one's own." Simply put: what you do doesn't matter to me even if I wouldn't want it for myself.

 1 Peter 4:8 tells us:
"And above all things have fervent love for one another, for 'love will cover a multitude of sins.'"
This doesn't mean that love sweeps things under the rug; that love makes wrongs right. This doesn't mean that my love for you prohibits me from telling you when you've done something wrong. Quite the opposite, really.

James 5:19-20 says:
"Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins."
When we turn our brothers and sisters (and the world!) away from their sins, we cover those sins. We have saved those people. Now, we know that it is not our blood that saves, but Jesus'. We know that it is not our power that saves, but the power of the gospel. Still, James says that if we turn someone back to the truth, we cover a multitude of sins.

It's interesting to me that the same phrase is used in both James and 1 Peter. If we put those together, we see a beautiful picture of what true love actually is: when a brother has wandered away from the truth (what God wants/expects/has commanded) and we tell them about it and encourage them to come home, we will save that person from a multitude of their sins because we loved them enough to help.

If we truly loved the world and our wayward brothers and sisters in Christ as we are commanded, we would be helping people out of their sins. We would be sharing the truth with them, because the truth is the only thing that can set them free from their sins (John 8:32). We wouldn't be allowing people to continue in their sins, all the while assuring them that God loves them anyway. No, we would be telling them that God loves them SO much that He sent Jesus to die for them so that He could wash away those sins.

Look back to the definition of tolerance. To tolerate means to have a permissive attitude. As Christians, we cannot be people who tolerate things that God has said will send people to eternal punishment! We must love every single person on this planet enough to tell them what they must do to escape wrath and condemnation. When I disagree with a certain belief or lifestyle or habit, it is never because I hate the individual who is practicing such a thing. On the contrary! It is because I love that person so much and care for their soul so much that I don't want them to perish in the eternal fire that God has promised will consume those who practice such things!

Ephesians 4:15 admonishes us to 'speak the truth in love'. Unless we are equally speaking truth and speaking it in love, we are failing the lost of this world and we are failing Jesus Christ. We will never win people over for Christ if we are not showing them the love of the Father, and we will never cover a multitude of sins if we fail to show people the error of their ways.

Today, it is my prayer that I will love people in the right way. I pray that I will love others enough to tell them that God has sent His Son for them so that they can be free from the bondage of sin, and that I will convey that truth in a way that cannot be mistaken for anything other than true love and concern.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Lights in the World

Today's post might be different, but bear with me. I don't have a lot of time (this being PTP week and all), but I just had to share this scripture dissection with you!
"Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Phil. 2:14-15
First and foremost, the verse says that we are to do all things without complaining and disputing. Does that leave room for a time when it is acceptable to complain or dispute? No! In every single thing we do--enjoyable or not--we are not to complain. If someone asks us to do something: let's not complain about the work load or our busy schedule. When we are stuck cleaning up after a fellowship, let's not grumble and whine. When the line at the bank or Wal-Mart is too long, let's remember this verse, because we are to do all things without complaining.

But why?

Scripture doesn't always answer our 'whys'. Sometimes, it's the "because I said so" rule. If God says it, I either do it or don't do it (depending on what He's said) simply because HE said it. In this section of Scripture, though, we are actually given the why, and it makes so much sense to me.

As Christians (children of God who have been washed and set apart from the rest of the world), we are to look different. Paul told us not to be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2). No, we're to look different. So go back to Philippians. In the midst of this crooked and perverse generation that we live in, we are to stand out---to be different--to shine as lights in the (dark) world. And HOW can we do that?

Do all things without complaining and disputing. 

When we stop complaining and we stop disputing, we start becoming blameless and harmless. We start letting our lights shine brighter.

This week, do your best to guard your tongue. Keep yourself from complaining and disputing. Be gentle, peaceable, and kind. Be a beacon of light in this world of darkness. By simply cutting these two things from our lives, we can mimic Christ's example more closely.

**For one more post on complaining, go here.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tough Stuff Tuesday: Deny Self

For those of you who have known me for a while, you know that my favorite drink in the entire world is Diet Coke. To me, there is nothing better than a large fountain Diet Coke from McDonald's in their styrofoam cups. I'm salivating just thinking about it. But here's the deal: it has been 42 days since my last Diet Coke. That is a HUGE deal. And let me tell you, it hasn't been easy. Those first few days were especially tough, and now it's only every now and then that I really miss them.

It's a lighthearted example, but an example of denying yourself nonetheless. I love Diet Coke, a lot, and I still wish that I could drink it, but I just don't. I don't need all of the aspartame or caffeine, and I definitely don't need to be addicted to anything other than my Savior.

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said:
"If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
I looked up the greek definitions for those words, and the word for deny (aparneomai) means "to deny utterly, to disown, abstain." When it comes to being a follower of Christ, we are going to have to deny ourselves, ie: abstain from the lusts and desires that we possess, and only crave the things that Jesus desires.

Paul told the Romans that when they were baptized, their old man died and was buried, and they were raised a completely new person (Rom. 6:3-4). They weren't to continue in sin after they had been washed, because that wasn't what grace was about (v.1-2). As Cliff Goodwin said recently, "Jesus never came to save people in their sins; He came to save them from their sins."

When we were baptized, we were crucified with Christ. When we were raised, we gave up living to ourselves. Instead, our old person died, and now we are living as Christ (Gal. 2:20). I'm afraid that Christians have become pretty prideful, thinking we know more about how Jesus would live than the Holy Spirit. After all, the Holy Spirit has revealed the will of God to us, and has shown us exactly how we can live as Christ. Sadly, we ignore what the Spirit has said and decide for ourselves how to live.

But that isn't what the word deny means. When we become followers of Jesus, we give up self. Period. Just because I think it would be nice if all people were in heaven--regardless of how much sin they have allowed in their life-- doesn't mean that's the way Jesus meant it. Jesus said that the way would be narrow--which seems to suggest that there are going to be some guidelines as to who will be in heaven and who will not (Matt. 7:13-14, Luke 13:24).

I may think that all people who simply ask Jesus into their hearts should be saved, but Jesus said that it would be those who believed and were baptized that would be saved (Mark 16:16).

I may think that drinking and partying and getting drunk takes the edge off, and participating in such a trivial matter won't jeopardize my soul, but the Bible shows us otherwise (1 Cor. 6:10).

I may think that God doesn't care who I marry, even if that person is of the same sex, because God loves all people and wants all people to be happy, but God's inspired Word has told us otherwise (1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:10).

Regardless of what I think, I am not God. I do not get to decide what is good and true. I do not get to judge who does or does not get to go to heaven. What I do know is that God wants all men to be saved and to live with Him in heaven (1 Tim. 2:4). However, for any of us to be candidates for salvation, we must submit to the terms God has put in place. We aren't the ones offering salvation, so we don't get to decide the terms. Instead, we get to deny ourselves and put on Christ. Once we have put on Christ (through baptism--Gal 3:27), we go back to what Galatians 2:20 says,
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."
If I weren't a Christian, I probably wouldn't guard my tongue as closely as I do. I would probably gossip more, and lie to get myself out of trouble. If I weren't a Christian, I probably wouldn't wake up early on Sundays. If I weren't a Christian, I would probably wear immodest clothing--because it's hot in Tennessee in the summertime! If I weren't a Christian, I would probably go off on people who make me angry, because they deserve to be treated the way they treat me.

However, because I am a Christian, I must respond how Jesus would respond. I must say things that Jesus would say. And, I must do the things that Jesus has said. I have to abstain from my fleshly, worldly desires because I am His. And, if your struggle is anger--you have to control it because you are now living as Christ. If your struggle is using profanity--you have to control it because you are speaking as Christ. If your struggle is with pornography--you have to abstain because you are now Christ's. If your struggle is with homosexuality--you have to abstain because God has said that is unacceptable.

We all struggle. We are all sinners. But if we are going to be true followers of Christ, we must all deny ourselves--of whatever ungodly desire it is that Satan has set before us. My struggle may be different than yours, but that doesn't give me the right to judge you. Your struggle may be different than mine, but that doesn't give you the right to give in to yours and claim that God wants you to do whatever you want. Jesus Christ told us, from His very lips, that we are to deny ourselves. For some, it may be easier. For some, the struggle may be much harder. But we know that God does not put on us more than we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

Denying yourself is hard, though. So we need patience and understanding and love from our brothers and sisters whose struggles are different than our own. But, we must not be so prideful to think that because our struggle is different or becoming more widely accepted that God will allow us to continue in sin. All Christians are required to deny self. All Christians are required to live as Christ.

It is my prayer that I will be more empathetic and loving toward those with different, sometimes harder struggles than my own, and that I will not be so prideful to think that I know better than God what constitutes as sin and what does not. Perhaps we can all pray this prayer together.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dress to Impress

No doubt you've heard the phrase 'dress to impress'. Generally, the term is in reference to the opposite sex, a future employer, or some other person wherein it would be to your benefit to impress them based on looks. My post today is hardly like that at all; instead, I want to seek ways that we can dress to impress God.

I've already written a post about immodest clothing, and if you haven't read it, you can check it out here. Instead of focusing on the negative too-this and too-that, I want to talk about what we CAN put on to be pleasing to God as His children.

First things first, let's notice what Galatians 3:27 says:
"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
When we became Christians/children of God, we put on something from the very start: Christ. Sometimes, though, we tend to cover up Christ and put back on a few things that we supposedly put off. Colossians 3:8-9 tell us what some of those things are.
"But now you yourselves are to put off all these things: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds."
In order to be impressive to God, we cannot be clothed with (dressed in) anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy and filthy language! If we have any of these things still on, we may be impressing the world, but we aren't being pleasing to God.

I hate negative posts, though. I hate being told what I'm not supposed to do, and then just leaving it at that. When we are seeking to be pleasing to God, I don't think we can simply eliminate the bad things from our hearts; instead, we must replace those negative, worldly things with good, Godly things. So let's see what we should put on that will impress God:
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which you were also called in one body; and be thankful." - Colossians 3:12-15
Paul tells us that there are numerous things that we can put on in order to be pleasing to God:

  • tender mercies - Really, this phrase is talking about the "bowels of compassion" or simply, compassionate feelings. To be pleasing to God, we are going to be people of compassion. The World English Dictionary defines this term as "a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it." If we have truly put on Christ and are 'dressing to impress' God, we are going to see the sufferings of those around us and do our best to alleviate their burdens.  I find it interesting that the list starts here, because if we can manage to put on this attribute, the others should fall in line.
  • kindness - We should all know what this means, but let me use another verse to show us a little more clearly: "But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior." Titus 3:4-6. We can see from those verses that God's kindness was demonstrated to us by sending Jesus and the Holy Spirit. What an awesome example of kindness! Since we have received such a kindness from God, we should also demonstrate that kindness toward others. 
  • humility - Peter tells us that we should be 'clothed with humility'  because 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble' (1 Pet. 5:5). In no way and at no time do I want God to resist me. However, if I have chosen to live a life that is prideful--perhaps not confessing my sins to others, perhaps thinking I'm better than others because my struggles are not the same as theirs (ie: homosexuals)--God will resist me. We must be people of humility if we want to receive grace from God. 
  • meekness - Galatians 6:1 tells us that if one of our brothers or sisters are overtaken in a trespass, we are to restore them in a spirit of meekness/gentleness lest we also be tempted. What an amazing characteristic to put on! When we are meekly and gently correcting and exhorting our brothers and sisters toward righteousness, are we not being extremely pleasing to God? When we are hatefully condemning and trying to 'scare people into heaven', I don't think we are. In order to be like Christ, and in order to be impressive to God, we must be people who are meek. After all, those are the people who will inherit the earth (Matt 5:5).
  • long-suffering - This is a tough one for me. Patience is a learned virtue, and it is one I am still working hard on perfecting. I love the order where this falls in the list, though: "Long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another." It seems the people that require the most patience are either the ones who 1: are so incredibly hard to 'bear with' (ie: put up with) or 2: are the ones who have wronged me and require the most forgiveness. In order to be like Christ, though, and in order to be pleasing to God, we must extend patience to all. After all, God is so long-suffering with me and my continually sinful walk. How can I expect Him to be long-suffering with me if I will not extend the same amount to others?
  • forgiveness - Jesus tells the story of the wicked servant in Matthew 18. After the story, He wraps up by saying, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (v.35). Jesus is the standard when it comes to forgiveness (and everything else). The first words He uttered on the cross were "Father, forgive them". Even in the midst of the worst pain and agony, Jesus had a forgiving heart. The scary thing is: if we don't have that kind of heart, God won't extend His forgiveness to us. So, in order for us to look like Christ and impress God, we must be people who always forgive. And not only when it's easy and convenient. There was nothing easy and convenient about dying on a cross. There was nothing easy and convenient about leaving heaven and coming to earth to be tortured. Surely, then, we can forgive others when they call us names or steal our boyfriends or break our hearts or hurt our families. 
  • love - As if the list hasn't been inclusive enough, Paul concludes by telling us to put on love, which we know incapsulates all of the characteristics mentioned (1 Cor. 13:4-8).  However, love appears to be the most important thing. While Jesus showed extreme forgiveness and compassion and long-suffering toward us, love is what brought Him from heaven in the first place. Nails aren't what held Jesus to the cross; no, it was His love for us. If we want to be true Christians and to really 'put on Christ', we must put on that deep, abiding love. 

So if those are the things we're supposed to put on, does it really leave any room for questions? Will I wonder, "hmm, this dress comes a few inches above my knee but, ehh, it's ok." or  "well, this show has a lot of fornication and homosexuality on it, but it's really funny and they don't cuss a lot so I'm sure it's fine." No. We will be seeking out clothes and entertainment and friends and spouses who help us wear Christ well. We won't be involved in the things that cover Him up and put Him to shame. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gossip: Part Two

If you haven't read yesterday's post, I hope that you'll do so before continuing with this post, as it serves as a background for the things we'll be looking at today.

This topic has been tough for me, and has stepped on every single one of my toes already. Today's post is proving to be no different. So, let's all put on our steel-toed boots (or flip flops, since we could all use for our toes to be stepped on every now and then) and get to studying!

We left off in Proverbs, so that's exactly where we'll start back. Let's start with Proverbs 15:2:
"The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." 
Gossip is using knowledge in a foolish way. Just because you know something about someone doesn't give you the right to share it with others. Now, I have heard quite a few people weigh in on gossip and say that anytime you say anything about another person, it is gossip. I can't say that I agree with that. I think that a lot of the problem with gossip goes back to intent. Now don't get me wrong: you CAN be sinning and you CAN be gossiping while you're talking about someone in a "good" way--sharing information you were meant to keep private, etc. Generally speaking, though, our speech turns into gossip (aka sin) when the intent is bad. Let me try to explain that using an illustration:

If I am deeply concerned for an individual's soul, and they are doing things that are hurting the church or hurting themselves or hurting others (or all of the above!), I don't believe I am gossiping if I tell my husband (preacher) about it and/or the elders (overseers) about it. If I took that same information to the person sitting next to me on the pew and said, "Did you hear they're doing this??"--Gossip. But if I am looking for a way to help an individual's soul, I don't feel it's gossiping, so much as I am taking it to the people who can help--and limiting it to that. If we EVER start sharing information that isn't ours to share to simply fill empty air or awkward silences, it seems to be gossip. If we find ourselves sharing information to puff ourselves up or make ourselves feel better about the planks sticking out of our own eyes, it is most definitely gossip--and a heart problem.

If you are having a tough time distinguishing whether or not you're gossiping, a simple way to gauge your speech would be to use the Proverbs 12:18 rule:
"There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health."
Is your speech going to cut someone down (pierce like a sword) or make the hearer AND person you're talking about better (promote health). Those we talk to and about should be made better by the words we use. If they aren't, we probably shouldn't be saying it.

Think about what Proverbs 25:23 has to say:
"The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance."
If the way we use our tongues is going to cause our brother to be angry and stumble, why would we ever say it? We are not to do or say things that we cause our brothers and sisters in Christ to stumble, so don't use your words to make them angry and lead them into temptation.

Provers 21:23 says this:
"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles."
This is probably something we all want: to be kept from trouble. Paul said that we are to do all that we can to be at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18). If we will GUARD our mouths and our tongues, we are more likely keep ourselves at peace. Why do we fret and complain and cry when people don't like us and don't trust us and talk badly about us--when we gossip about them regularly? Aren't we inviting trouble upon us because we aren't guarding our mouths?

I also find it interesting that it says 'guards' his mouth and tongue. It isn't something you do automatically. No, your mouth and your tongue have to be guarded. You have to constantly be on top of things, keeping your mouth from releasing information it shouldn't. But wait! What if my mouth has to be guarded from nasty, ugly things that might slip out? What if I am having to guard my lips from uttering a curse word when I accidentally bump my toe? What if someone cuts me off in traffic and I have to keep myself from yelling out in rage? Is that what this is talking about?? I don't think so.

I think that's what Luke 6:45 is talking about:
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."
It is hard to guard a mouth that has an ugly heart behind it. One of the scary things about studying gossip is that it doesn't just reveal a problem with our speech, it reveals a problem with our hearts. Why am I struggling with sharing ugly things about others? Why do I struggle with wanting to spread hurtful things? Could it not be that the heart behind the words is thriving off of the ugly, hurtful things? If our hearts were pure, our mouths would be pure. If our mouths aren't pure, our hearts aren't. 

We must purify our hearts so that we can purify our speech. If we don't rid our hearts of ugly, evil things, our speech will still be ugly and evil--filled with gossip, backbiting, and all sorts of other hurtful things. Another reason we must purify our hearts is because it is only the pure in heart who will see God (Matt. 5:8). We cannot expect a home in heaven if we were bashing God's children the entire time we were on the earth. Heaven is a place of comfort, of peace, of happiness; it is not a place of sorrow or crying (Rev. 21:4). Why, then, would people who have spent their lives causing others pain and sorrow expect to be there one day? We must all strive to control our tongues. James told us it would be extremely difficult to tame the tongue, but it is imperative for the child of God to spend themselves trying to achieve it.

Let's close with a look at the Virtuous Woman. In Proverbs 31:10-31 we see the picture of a woman that all daughters of God strive to be like. This is what is said of this beautiful, spiritual woman in verse 26:
 "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness."
May we all strive to be that kind of person; only having on our tongues the law of kindness.