I was eating lunch with a man who started to take a pill. When I asked him why he was taking it, he said it was for his colitis. I asked him who he was colliding with now.
Our words can collide with people and condemn them, or our words can confirm them. The Bible says that pleasant words are like a honeycomb. In that day, honey was a remedy for sicknesses such as a sore throat. It was also an energy booster, a total "pick-me-up."
Jesus said that our words are an overflow from our heart. What is on the inside will come out in our words.
Two brothers were getting on in years, and one was envious of the other. The older of the two asked God, "Why has my brother been blessed with wealth and happiness and I have nothing? All my life I've never missed a single day without saying my morning and evening prayers. My church attendance has been perfect. I've not made a single decision without first calling Your name. And now as I'm nearing my final days, I'm in church every day and almost every night. Yet, I can hardly afford to pay my meager rent. My brother, on the other hand, drinks and gambles. Not once have I seen him in church, yet my brother has more money than he can count. So I ask you, God, not to punish my brother but to tell my why you've allowed him such wealth and happiness and I've been left with nothing?"
God replied, "Because you are such a self-righteous pain in the neck."
Why do we use condemning words? Sometimes it's because we are self-righteous pains in the neck. A sharp tongue is mentioned a lot more in the Bible than gambling or drinking. Yet we are so self-righteous. "You don't see me down at the casino. You don't see me doing this or that." What about your words? The Book says that our lives and our lips are connected.
Sometimes we use condemning words because we think that this will make others change their behavior. Our motives may be good, but the method isn't. Let me share a personal experience. I speak at quite a few banquets. Many times the food is incredible with great desserts. This year I had two banquets on successive nights in different cities. At the first banquet, there was this wonderful cheesecake with a caramel nut topping. As we sat down to eat, the pastor told me that he thought I looked like I had put on a few pounds. He said that it looked like being on the road was making me a "big" preacher. Now, you would think that those words would have kept me from eating the cheesecake. Actually, the opposite happened. I ate the whole thing! I needed comfort. I was feeling a little let down, my self-esteem was suffering. Remember, it's not what you are eating — it's what's eating you.
What made this incident stand out in my mind was that the next night's banquet had the same cheesecake. I had already decided to eat it. Jack Graham happened to be sitting at my table. One of the first things he said to me was that he thought I had lost weight and that I really looked good. He said that he was proud of me because he knew how difficult it is on the road to keep the weight off. I didn't eat the cheesecake. Why? Because Jack's words boosted my confidence, so I didn't need the comfort food. I discovered that good words are like honey; they fill you up but without the calories
Because he was recovering from serious injuries, a pastor knew he could not be there to see his son, Chris, run in the state cross-country championship meet. He commissioned his brother Merv to go instead. According to the account in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch, Mark told his brother, "I can't be there to see Chris run so I want you there at the beginning of the race. Holler a lot. … Then, at the end, I want you to really cheer loudly. And I want you to make your voice sound like mine." Merv heeded the advice, and Chris ran a strong race, finishing second. Merv, also a pastor, discerned the theological truth in the story. "That's what Jesus wants us to do," he said, "Make your voice sound like His."
Jesus says, "Charles, I've got some people in the family who are in the race, too. I want you to be there and say words of encouragement. I want your voice to sound like Mine." Jesus is our advocate. He's on our team and He's cheering for us.
After attending a Christmas concert, a journalism student wrote down this beautiful Christmas reflection:
"When I settled into a chair near the back of the auditorium, the old gentleman next to me began telling me that his son was a tenor in the choir. 'He's very good,' the man said, 'I'm sure you'll enjoy his singing.'
"The curtain rose revealing a choir of one hundred young men and women. They began to sing, and it wasn't long before the old man was nudging me and pointing out his son, 'He sings beautifully, doesn't he?' he asked. Although I strained to hear the boy, it was impossible to single him out. Yet I'm certain that his father could."
Our Father is the same with us. Though we are all part of the mighty chorus of believers, He hears us one at a time.
I want my voice to sound like His.