As we explored yesterday, when we die, we live; when we are faithless, God's faithfulness remains true; when we persevere, there is a reward far greater than we could ever imagine at the end of the fight. Today's urging from our study - don't forget these things! It is easy to get ahead of ourselves, thinking we have it under control and just moving out on our own. It is as easy to get all muddled up in a mess, mired down by the junk which really doesn't matter. To persevere one has to learn to shed dead weight and to carry only what we are suited to carry - which according to God is very little! One thing we can carry which is both an influential "tool" in our arsenal of defenses and at the same time, can be a thing which can actually get us all mired up in a muddle which holds us back is our words. We find ourselves mired up whenever we use them to argue - God's plan is not for words to weigh us down, but to liberate, lift, and lighten our burden.
Don’t let anyone forget these things. And with God as your witness, you must warn them not to argue about words. These arguments don’t help anyone. In fact, they ruin everyone who listens to them. Do your best to win God’s approval as a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who teaches only the true message. Keep away from worthless and useless talk. It only leads people farther away from God. That sort of talk is like a sore that won’t heal. (2 Timothy 2:14-17 CEV)
The true message - words which liberate, lift, and lighten. You might have heard the expression of "vain words". These are words which lack influence and will ultimately be considered to be ineffectual in the end. Arguing about truth is not necessary. Truth stands the test of time and will not be "undone" by anyone's arguments. There is this thing in Christian circles called "apologetics" - the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity. Although this field of study this is a legitimate study of scripture and is soundly based on the principles of what scripture supports and does not, it can be like wielding a sledge-hammer when used incorrectly. For example, when we set out to "argue" our point on some spiritual matter, we are often not thoroughly aware of the other person's viewpoint from which they are "arguing". In time, we trample over their views, setting ours as superior or "right". Although they may be "right", we have lost the soul we were trying to win because we trampled them with our "arguments".
We are encouraged to speak the truth in love. This is the principle taught throughout scripture - everywhere you explore the use of the tongue, it is encouraged for us to use to speak words which build up, encourage, are helpful and considerate. In so doing, many an argument is actually diverted! It is not necessary to "defend" Christianity - truth "defends" itself - especially when it is spoken in love. Too much today, people go around using their "right" to free speech as a means of hurting others in the views they express. Sure, I don't agree any group of individuals should be persecuted, held back in society, or treated with any form of disrespect. But...we don't need to make things worse with the use of words which lash out, destroy character, or incite harmful actions. We need to speak words of healing, love, hope - in other words, we need to speak truth, but we also need to "live out" truth in our actions and intentions.
Worthless and useless talk becomes a "sore that won't heal". How many of us have those "sores" resident within? I daresay there are some festering sores which have begun by the use of words carelessly spoken - arguments we thought we had to have, but which later we regret dearly. We may not have incited the argument, but in time, we have been affected by the course of those words. So, we are encouraged today to look at not only our choice of words, but with what "intent" we are speaking them. "Intent" is often more revealing than the words themselves - for it is often the hidden message behind the words we speak which bring others down or build them up!
John C. Maxwell puts it well: "People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude." I cannot agree more! It is what is behind the words which really counts. Truth needs not be defended, but our attitude in speaking truth often needs adjustment! Just sayin!