Time For God: May 12

Written by Paul Beckingham

Focus: 2 Timothy 2:14
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.
 
Reflect:
The public speaking instructor stood slowly. Calmly, and in full control, he pierced the eyes of every class member. Sometimes, he explained, when you open your mouth to speak in public it feels—and sounds—like marbles tumbling out only to hit the floor. Everyone nodded; they knew exactly what he meant. They’d been there—often. They keenly wanted get the marbles out of their mouths before starting to speak.

Someone once quipped that the brain is that part of the human anatomy that never ceases to function …until you stand up to speak in public. Then, everything stops. You’re lost for words. Or—worse—once started you can’t stop talking. Surveys suggest that some folks are more ready to die than to engage in public speaking. Many people fear that a potentially hostile audience will filter their words for faults. Social media invites that kind of volatile—and public—response.

Instant tweeting seems to have replaced Parliamentary debate. The most powerful centers of influence appear to be unelected voices. Broadcast on social media, they seek to gain the most “likes” and re-posts. Forceful opinions are squeezed into few words. Words become weapons to slay the monsters of another person’s opinions. The battle’s climax is an election campaign; the war of words gets openly vicious.

The stakes are raised dramatically when people fear the truth is at risk. Religious wars are the worst. Ironically, the first casualty of every war is the truth—winning is all. People with differing views are excoriated—censured, denounced, condemned, and maligned. Listening skills are lost in the battle for supremacy. People are dehumanized; they become a foe to be vanquished. There are no winners in that kind of war. Wounds run deep; scars are indelible. The damage is often permanent.

The Apostle urges Timothy to remind the people he shepherds, not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. When working with in an inter-denominational mission in London, such “discussions” sometimes arose. Our wise leader insisted we strive to agree on essentials (redemption in Christ) and freely differ on the non-essentials of our faith (how we work to show Christ’s love). What is essential? The love of God in Christ; more than mere words, it embraces the heart.

Consider:
How have you been hurt by the weapons of words? How have you hurt others by your speech? How will you allow Christ’s healing words of love heal you and others?

Pray:
Word of Life, heal my heart that I might share your healing words with neighbors, friends, and family. May your deep love embrace my loved ones today. Amen.
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