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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Repeated exposure - tempering our emotions

8 Grow a wise heart—you'll do yourself a favor; 
   keep a clear head—you'll find a good life.
 9 The person who tells lies gets caught; 
   the person who spreads rumors is ruined. 
11 Smart people know how to hold their tongue;
   their grandeur is to forgive and forget. 
(Proverbs 19:8-9, 11)

Ever get caught in a lie?  I have and it is not pleasant!  Ever been involved in some "juicy gossip", only to have that individual walk up behind you and overhear what you were saying?  Not a terribly comfortable position to find yourself in, is it?  Our writer reminds us that there is a significant blessing in learning how to use our tongues for the glory of God.  

We are encouraged to "grow a wise heart".  I want us to see that a wise heart is "grown" - meaning it does not occur automatically.  There is some work in becoming wise in the inner recesses of our 'heart'.  The 'heart' is the seat of our emotions.  Think about it - if we are becoming wise in our emotions, it should affect our speech.  We will begin to 'test' the value of the words we speak and choose different responses than we may have when we were allowing our emotions to foolishly just flow out of our inner man.

Application of truth and then the obedience to the truth repeated time and again in our lives is the beginning of wisdom.  A clear heart (solid emotions) is not found in the chaos of confusion and misplaced priorities.  It is found in the times of intimate communion with God - learning at the feet of the Master.

Smart people exhibit mental and emotional 'alertness'.  They are not easily caught up in the gossip or angry exchanges of relationship.  They are not given over easily to the emotional 'mis-spending' of relational truths that one is privy to enjoy.  As we are being taught by the Holy Spirit to walk uprightly, tempering our emotions, we are encouraged and enabled to be 'in tune' with the subtle things that could trip us up and get us involved in conversation or action that becomes sinful in its focus.

A person who remains mentally alert and exercises caution in their speech or actions will also be able to release an offender quickly.  They will not find themselves in the place where they get all caught up in the all-consuming process of bitterness because they understand the dangers associated with that emotional investment.  

We are often striving to 'learn more' - especially as it applies to our spiritual walk.  We have this misplaced perception that if we learn more, we will be wiser in our choices.  In a sense, this is true - but only if we couple the learning with actively practicing what we have learned.  It is not always the 'volume' of what we learn that contributes to our overall spiritual, physical, and mental health.  It is the quality of what we learn that affects us most.  

A smart person is not easily caught up because he or she has gained the wisdom they need to avoid falling into the temptation to lie or gossip - both very emotionally based responses - because they are exposing themselves to the 'right stuff' in the first place.  Exposure is the first step - incorporating what we are exposed to in the Word, through biblical teaching, etc., is quite another thing.  Repeated exposure increases our chances of incorporating what we are exposed to so that it might begin to have an effect.  Think of being out in the sun - you don't get a tan the first 10 minutes you are out there.  Yet, if you go out each day for 10 minutes a day, you will eventually be changed through repeated exposure to the suns rays.

So it is with God's graces in our lives.  Whether it is the 'tempering' of our emotions or the purifying of our motives - we benefit from the repeated exposure to his Word!  Never get tired of hearing what God's Word reveals.  Today could the day that your emotions take a turn for the best!