June 27, 2019
When I Was a Child …
When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child does. But when I grew up, I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11, NLT).
Friend to Friend
I remember the first time I saw the movie, “Peter Pan.” I was a little girl, totally mesmerized by the character of Peter, wanting to be just like him. After the movie was over, I immediately ran into my back yard and jumped out of a tree – trying to fly! Fortunately, nothing was broken, and I quickly decided I could be contented with being like Peter in other ways. I immediately vowed never to grow up! I agreed with Peter that the adult world seemed frightening; it was very large and demanding, completely beyond my control.
However, life goes on and I somehow managed to navigate the treacherous waters of life, finding myself happily married with two children. Once again, I wished time would stop or at least, slow down so my children would stay babies. Of course, that wish didn’t come true either. But I am finding life today very sweet. Our son, Jered, is married to a beautiful girl and they have four beautiful children! Our daughter Danna is happily married to a great young man and has two amazing boys. Both Jered and Danna are wonderful young adults who bring us great joy and teach us so much about life. The desire to grow is a healthy desire and a natural process in human development.
The same principle is true when it comes to our spiritual development and growth. If the desire to grow isn’t present in our lives, there’s something wrong with our spiritual health. Healthy Christians grow and mature. It’s natural for the Christian to grow and mature in Christ. God not only wants us to grow, He commands it.
The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, correcting them for their childish attitudes about the spiritual gifts of tongues, knowledge and prophecy. He encouraged them to grow up, to put away the less mature gifts and to seek the more mature gifts such as love, faith and hope.
We can apply this same encouragement to our lives today. It’s time for us to become mature believers by putting away immature attitudes and actions. One of the most obvious marks of maturity or immaturity is how we use words. Mature believers don’t speak like children. You never know exactly what a child is going to say but we naturally expect childish words to come from children. Paul is saying that a great measurement of maturity for us as Christians is how well we use words.
Our words need to be controlled. In the book of James, we find a sobering challenge. “We all make many mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control themselves in every other way” (James 3:2, NLT). If we can control our tongues, we can control ourselves. James, a disciple of Jesus, compares the tongue to the rudder on a ship, a bit in the horse’s mouth, or a spark that starts a huge fire. The tongue is powerful and difficult to control. Our words can give or destroy life. Once a word is spoken, it is eternal.
Our words need to be encouraging. One of the highest responsibilities in the body of Christ is to practice encouragement. A word of encouragement may be a life preserver to someone drowning in a storm of life.
Our words need to be truthful. Mark Twain said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Lies hold us in bondage while truth sets us free.
We need to be extremely careful what we say and how we say it because the spoken word is powerful. It can bless or curse, express praise or whisper slander. It can be a tool of blessing or a weapon of destruction. How we use the tongue is a dead give-away of our spiritual maturity. If we don’t learn to control our tongue, it will control us! It’s time to grow up!
Father, I confess that in many ways I am still so childish and lack maturity. I now lay those areas before You and ask that You take control, teaching me Your ways. Lord, help me control my tongue and speak words that would encourage and build others up. Right now, I give myself anew to You and pray that in the days to come, I will grow up so that others will see You in my life.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now it’s Your Turn
Take some time to evaluate the maturity level in every area of life – especially in the words you speak.
In what areas have you grown since becoming a Christian?
What are the areas in which you need to mature?
How would others describe the words that you speak?
Who is there in your life that needs a word of encouragement today? How can you meet that need?
More from the Girlfriends
I know! It is hard work to mature. I often think it would be a lot easier to remain babies in Christ. But in order to deal with life…today…we need to set our minds and hearts on growing up in Christ. The words we speak are direct indicators of our maturity level. Ouch! If you are like me, you really want to use words as a gift of encouragement but seem to fail so often.
Well, let’s begin again! Let’s get into God’s Word so we will have good things to speak. Let’s pray diligently that we will be prepared to give a godly verbal response. And when we fail, let’s confess our frailty and celebrate God’s strength…and begin again. We’re in this together!
Need help? The power to control the words we speak is to get the Word of God into our lives. Sometimes we don’t really know how to do that. I encourage you to check out my book combo – You Make Me So Angry and How to Study the Bible for help in controlling the words you speak. And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Originally published Thursday, 27 June 2019.