Google+ 07/31/13 Let's Practice Tongue Control and Count to 100!

Luke 6:27-29

 

 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!

Do good to those who hate you.

Bless those who curse you.

Pray for those who hurt you.

If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.

If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.

 

From a very early age, I accepted all 66 books of the Bible as the inspired Word of God.  There are so many life-lessons revealed in the Bible.  It truly is a "handbook" for our everyday life!  Whether we want to admit it or not, there are sections of the Bible that we all wrestle with in our daily walk with God.  I confess, today's Scripture verses are some of those for me.  Recently as a pastor standing for God in an evil world, I have found myself in the "lion's den" far too often.  To most of us it is not a surprise that people in this world hurt each other, often and badly.  Many times this hurt runs deep and causes life-long pain.  The Bible warns us about the power of the tongue.  Candidly, there are many times in my life that I would have chosen the temporary pain of physical hurt, over the often permanent emotional scars that an errant tongue can inflict.  So when Jesus tells us to love our enemies, bless those that curse us, and pray for those that hurt us, my initial reaction is the same as my good friend from New Jersey who says, "Really?!"  If someone slaps me, you want me to turn the other cheek?  If someone takes my coat by force, and doesn't even ask, you want me to offer my shirt as well?  Again, "Really?!"  Jesus was and is serious.  The key to these wise and painful Scripture verses is the first eight words.  Jesus begins with, "But to you who are willing to listen."  No matter how hurt we are, we are called to forgive and inflict kindness on our enemies.  As a pastor, I have to do a lot of this.  Recently I walked in on a conversation between two "Christians" making as much rude fun of me and our ministry as possible.  When I entered the same room and witnessed their conversation, I had to be kind.  Later in the day, one of these very same people came to me with a prayer request for a family member.  I was and still am deeply hurt by their comments, but I stopped and prayed for their family member and for peace in their family.  Jesus is serious about praying for our enemies, but as human Christians, let's all be aware of something.  While we are all called to forgive, we can often never forget.  Our "tongue scars" may be permanent.  In my life, I pray daily for God to heal these lesions in my life.  The Bible teaches us that only true repentance on the part of the wronging party, will heal these wounds.  People rarely truly repent!  They apologize not because they are sorry, but because they are sorry they got caught!  The easiest way to heal these scars is to prevent them altogether.  My dad is a wise man.  When I was growing up, he told me to count to 100 (not 10) before I spoke.  If you actually do this with no short cuts, you will discover two things.  First, if the thought is still present in your brain after counting to 100, it might actually be important and constructive to someone else!  Secondly, you will never hurt anyone with a "slip of the tongue" when you give yourself enough time to think about it!  By all means, love our enemies, do good for those who hate us, bless those that curse us, and pray for those that hurt us.  After we have done all this, let's practice "tongue control" by counting to 100.  It couldn't hurt!