Slaves of Righteousness

Slaves of Righteousness

After being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years, the economic situation required that I reenter the workforce.  That was a major culture shock to me!  Much to my dismay, I discovered that any topic was opened to discussion.  I was appalled by the amount of backbiting I observed.  On top of that, gossip and negativity abounded where ever I went.

It is very hard to keep a positive attitude in those kinds of situations.  In fact, all too often, it was too easy to join in.  However, I soon realized that doing so left a very bitter taste in my spirit.

However, in Romans 6:15-18, it is clear that I don’t have to be a slave to sin.  Rather, I can be a slave to righteousness.  It is my choice — I can continue to join in with the gossip and negative conversations at work.  Or, I can choose to be a slave to righteousness and walk away, keeping my integrity intact.  What an encouragement to realize that I do not have to let sin reign in me!

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

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Sign Language

Sign Language

Rachel and I recently took an eight week class in sign language.  We both enjoyed learning this new language, and while we are far from fluent in it, we are conversing in it every day.  What surprised me about sign language is that so many of the signs make perfect sense!

Whether we realize it or not, we all speak some kind of ‘sign language’ by the life we live.  Many times we will label a person with a word that comes to mind when we think of them.  For instance, if someone in your women’s group is a constant complainer, you will likely think of her as ‘the complainer’ because that is what her ‘sign language’ is.  If you know someone who can fill a room with laughter, they likely have a ‘sign language’ that says, “I’m the life of the party.”  A lady who constantly has to be talking about others is quickly able to inform others with her ‘sign language’ that she is a gossip.  Maybe you know someone who can’t hold down a job and always tries get hand-outs from others.  We would likely call this type of person a loser.

I love to watch people.  Sitting in the middle of the mall can be an interesting experience.  Even if you don’t hear what the people are saying, you can watch the animation in their faces and their body language and quickly determine what kind of mood they are in.  It’s the same with all of us – even though we may not speak ASL (American Sign Language), we are still speaking, if only through our own facial expressions and our body language.  What we ‘speak’ without even saying any words can cause others to quickly form an opinion on what type of person we are.

What does our ‘sign language’ speak about us?  Does it say that we are angry, bitter, impatient, or rude?  Or does it say that we are a woman who is loving, peaceful, gentle, content, kind, and joyful?
Do we need to learn a new ‘sign language?’
© 2005, Stacy R. Miller

Mind Your Own Business

Mind Your Own Business

I remember hearing it said that gossip is sharing any piece of information about another person that isn’t necessary.  Yet, how many times do we find ourselves doing just that?

On the Wednesday night before the FMA (Family Marriage Amendment) was coming up for a vote in the Senate, our pastor mentioned that there was some talk that homosexuals were planning to target some churches around the nation on that coming Sunday.  He briefly shared that they may picket with signs and/or try to disrupt church services.  He then mentioned that coming to churches was another one of their methods to get their own point of view heard.  Anyway, someone in the church wasn’t paying real close attention to what Pastor had said.  The next day I received a phone call from a friend who was very disturbed over something she had heard that our pastor supposedly said.  She proceeded to tell me that this individual told her that our pastor was opening up our church to homosexual advocates.  Because this person didn’t pay close attention to what was actually being said, they ended up slandering our pastor, speaking lies about him, tainting his character.

An area where I see falsehoods, gossip, and slander quite frequently are in the myriad of urban legends circulating on the Internet.  Time is a very precious commodity, and I don’t want to waste mine on reading that kind of trash.  Yet, I continually find that people keep sending them to me every week.  We would be wise to use some discretion when we receive these kinds of messages in our email box.  Rather than immediately sending them on to every person in your address book, check them out first to see if they are even true.  A great resource for checking to see if something is an urban legend is http://www.snopes.com/.  When I take the time to research these kinds of messages, I have only found about two of them that were actually accurate messages.

Recently, as I headed into the women’s restroom at church, and closed the door, I saw a note posted on the door.  It said that someone who speaks to you about someone will also speak about you to someone.

Proverbs shares some wonderful insights regarding being a talebearer.  A gossip is one who will spread rumors.  Yet, the flip side is that she who is trustworthy will stop rumors.  (11:13 NIV)  She who guards her lips guards her own life.  (13:3)  Many times gossip isn’t true, so when we share it, we are telling lies, and God hates a lying tongue.  (6:17)

So, how do we help to guard ourselves against this all-too-common trap?  In II Tim. 4:2, we are told to be ready in season and out of season.  If we want to do our best to be godly women, not given to the destructive habit of gossiping, we need to be prepared with a response so that when (not if) someone wants to gossip to us, we have a response ready to speak forth to them.  For instance, when Sister Busybody approaches you and says, “Did you hear about so-and-so?”, you can immediately respond with, “No, and if it’s something bad about them, I’d rather not hear it, thank you.”  Or another response could be, “Would this person care if they knew you were about to share this issue with me?”  Another way of putting it would be to say, “If you what you have to say about them is edifying, I would love to hear it!”  Sometimes a gentle admonishment is a good approach.  Share with this person a past experience, where someone has spoken something less-than-desirable about another person — a person whom you barely knew.  The end result was that every time you saw this other person, that conversation where gossip was shared is always in the forefront of your mind.  You might even share that having those kinds of thoughts always popping up isn’t pleasant, so you do your best to avoid having that happen again.

The Bible tells us that we are to correct, rebuke, and encourage.  (II Tim. 4:2)  Part of correcting or rebuking may be to stop people who have wagging tongues when they approach us.  Yes, it’s possible that we may offend them.  Yes, it’s likely that they may turn and stab us in the back because we dared to stop them in their sin.  But Sister, I ask you:  Whose applause and approval do you desire?  Do you desire the approval and acceptance of a gossip, who is likely to gossip about you?  Or, do you desire the approval of the Lord who was willing to die for you?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

An Instructed Tongue

An Instructed Tongue

The tongue is a very hard thing to tame.  James calls it a fire, a world of evil that is set on fire by hell.  He calls it a restless evil that is filled with deadly poison.  (Jas. 3:6-8)

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘restless’ as unable to relax, giving no rest, rarely quiet or still, or discontented.  I don’t know about you, but just seeing that definition in light of how I use my tongue, I’m getting convicted already!

When we find that we are unable to relax our tongue, we will find ourselves being quick to speak.  Yet, James tells us that we should be slow to speak. (Jas. 1:19)

When we have a discontented tongue, it’s hard to follow the admonition in Philippians to think upon the things which are lovely, true, just, pure, and excellent.  We don’t allow ourselves time to shut up long enough to count our blessings.  That discontented tongue just has so much to say!

Another thing that a discontented tongue can do is make us like the quarrelsome wife, who is like a constant dripping. (Pr. 19:13) We fall into the habit of nagging, whining, complaining, and/or disrespecting our husband because we have become discontent with our lot in life.  No wonder Proverbs 21:19 tells us that a man is better off in the desert than living with a quarrelsome woman!  At least in the desert, he might find some peace and quiet.

When our tongue gives us no rest, we miss out on intimate moments with the Lord.  He may be calling us to find rest for our weary souls. (Mt. 11:28-30) In John 10, Jesus tells us that His sheep listen to His voice.  If our tongue gives us no rest, how can we hear His still, small voice?

In Pr. 31:26-27 we see that ‘when’ the virtuous woman speaks, her words are kind, giving wise counsel and instruction.  The word ‘when’ implies that she isn’t talking all of the time.  She has learned to be silent at times.  She also doesn’t eat the bread of idleness.  Idleness is a dangerous trap because when we become idle in our bodies, our tongue usually doesn’t follow.  Instead, it finds reason to  gossip or even to wallow in self-pity because we are discontented.  Those ultimately lead us to that place of having a restless tongue.

How do we stop this vicious cycle?  It is certainly a hard one to break once we fall prey to it.

Is. 50:4 says that God has given me an instructed tongue so that I will know what to speak to the weary.  He awakens me morning by morning, wakening my ear to listen to Him, like one who is being taught.

When we begin to honestly pray for God to give us an instructed tongue, we may find the resulting fruit:
1.  Our kind words may cheer up someone.  (Pr. 12:25)
2.  Our lips will nourish many. (Pr. 10:21)
3.  Our wise words will bring healing to others.  (Pr. 12:18) In fact, our wise words may even bring healing to ourselves because we begin to speak the Word over our situation instead of speaking out of our fickle emotions.
4.  Our words can become a fountain of life.  (Pr. 10:11)
5.  Wisdom will flow from us.  (Pr. 10:13)
6.  We will learn how to weigh our answers before we speak. (Pr. 15:28)

An instructed tongue…..I want it!  How about you?  Do you want it?
© 2004, Stacy R Miller

Slaves of Righteousness

Slaves of Righteousness

 

After being a stay-at-home mom for thirteen years, the economic situation required that I reenter the workforce. That was a major culture shock to me! Much to my dismay, I discovered that any topic was opened to discussion. I was appalled by the amount of backbiting I observed.  On top of that, gossip and negativity abounded wherever I went.

 

It is very hard to keep a positive attitude in those kinds of situations. In fact, all too often, it was too easy to join in. However, I soon realized that doing so left a very bitter taste in my spirit.

 

However, in Romans 6:15-18, it is clear that I don’t have to be a slave to sin.  Rather, I can be a slave to righteousness.  It is my choice — I can continue to join in with the gossip and negative conversations at work.  Or, I can choose to be a slave to righteousness and walk away, keeping my integrity intact.  What an encouragement to realize that I do not have to let sin reign in me!

 

© 2011, Stacy R. Miller

 

Grave Digging

Grave Digging

 

In Prov. 5:5, we see that the adulteress gives no thought to the way of her life.  Are we like that?  Do we blindly make our way through each day, never taking heed to the direction in which we are going?  Do we neglect to take the time to see the path where we are venturing?  For instance, if we are suddenly struggling with fits of rage, do we just flippantly blow it off as being hormonal?  Or do we get before the Lord, asking Him to reveal any hidden places in our hearts that may be leading to those fits of rage? 

 

Sometimes the Lord may reveal to us that these fits of rage are a trigger from the past.  I have learned that one of my triggers is the springtime.  It reminds me, sometimes even subconsciously, of the baby I lost during that time of year.  I often fall prey to feelings of hopelessness or extreme anger during that time of year.  Rather than continuing to ‘dig a grave’ with my fleshly emotions, I have allowed the Lord to ‘fill the hole’ and give me a straight path.  When  we take the time to allow the Lord to speak to us, we may find that we have some unforgiveness, resentment, or even areas of unconfessed sin, which has caused us to ‘dig a grave,’ thereby opening a doorway to the enemy, giving him a foothold in our life.

 

Are we in a place where our fuse seems to be shorter than usual?  Do we continue to do as the adulteress, giving no thought to our ways?Once again, we can blame it on hormones.  But could it really be that we are neglecting to feed our spirit because we are just too busy doing other things?

 

Prov. 18:21 tells us that we hold the power of life and death in our tongue.  Those who love it will eat its fruit.  Notice that the scriptures don’t say that we MIGHT eat its fruit, but that we WILL eat its fruit, whether that fruit be good or bad.  How many of us know someone who is very bitter with their words?  Do you know someone whose tongue is like a viper, ready to strike at any moment?  Now think upon what physical ailments they face because of their bitterness.  With their own mouths, they have been digging their grave.

 

In Prov. 11:13 and 16:18 we find that a gossip betrays a confidence and separates close friends.  It is so easy to discern who is a gossip.  Just close your mouth and listen when you are in the presence of others.  The gossip’s words usually start out with, “Now don’t tell anyone I told you this, but….”  The gossip digs her own grave by her incessant need to talk about others.  Her grave digging abilities come from words that aren’t edifying and full of love.  Also, she digs a grave by alienating people.  No one wants to be around her because they know that she will just stab them in the back the moment they walk away from her.  She may die an early death, in part because she a lonely woman, but also because of her grave digging abilities.

 

Father, help us not to be grave diggers, but to be life givers.  Help us to speak words that will edify and encourage.  Give us words that will be a soothing oil to a wounded heart.  Help us speak words that will bring healing and grace to those around us.  Amen.

 

© 2003, Stacy R Miller

 

Chattering Fool

The Chattering Fool

As I was looking through the tenth chapter of Proverbs, I noticed that it mentioned a chattering fool twice, leaving the impression that too much talking is not good.  A chattering fool will come to ruin.  Prov. 10:8, 10.  Why would she come to ruin?  Could it be that people who know her gossiping ways are smart enough to figure out that she must also gossip about them?  That could leave her with no friends.  Could it be that her words have slandered a reputation, and it came back to “bite” her?  Verse 19 tells us that when words are many, sin isn’t absent, but she who holds her tongue is wise.  Verse 14 tells us that the mouth of a foolish person invites ruin.  I would like to invite many things into my life, but ruin is not on my list.  I guess I had better be careful to watch my words!

As we look further, we see that verse 7 tells us that the name of the wicked will rot.  Looking at verse 11, we find that one of the things which the wicked do is to speak violent words.  Verse 32 tells us that the wicked speak what is perverse.  In verse 18, it says that she who spreads slander is a fool.  As we ponder on the words that we speak, do we speak violent words?  Do we speak what is perverse?  Do we slander others?  Do we speak before knowing the facts?  Even if we do know the facts, should we be speaking them?  If we slip into these habits, we need to remember that God’s Word declares that people who speak these things are wicked!  Some more descriptive words for wicked are foul, profane, evil-minded, depraved, degraded, disreputable, indecent, scandalous, atrocious, monstrous, and rotten.  Those words sure don’t sound very complementary.

Unfortunately, even in the church, we have far too many instances of wickedness proceeding from the mouths of God’s people.  In Gal. 5:13-15, Paul was addressing the church when he said that we shouldn’t be using our freedom to indulge our sinful nature, but we should be serving one another in love.  We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourself.  Then, we are admonished to watch out because if we keep biting and devouring each other (could he mean with our words?), we will end up destroying each other.

I love what it says in Proverbs 31.  “When” she speaks, the law of kindness is on her tongue.  The word “when” implies that there are times when she isn’t speaking.  She knows when to open her mouth, and she also knows when to keep it closed.  May God teach us to do the same.

In closing, ponder on this:  God made you to have two ears, two eyes, two nostrils, two hands, two feet, but only ONE mouth. 

Lord, help us to use our one and only mouth to glorify you in all that we say.  Help us not to ever invite ruin into our lives by being a chattering fool.  Rather, help us to impart grace into the lives of those around us by the words which we speak.  Amen.

© 2003, Stacy R. Miller