I did it. I opened my mouth and the words came out as fast as a bullet leaving the chamber of a gun. And I knew I never should have cocked the trigger, but there I stood, my self-righteousness the smoking gun of evidence to my failing.
It would be easy to justify myself; deep down I meant no harm. The words erupted from a place of hurt and disappointment. It was an unhealed wound that loaded the weapon. I can be forgiven for that, can’t I?
Yes and No.
Yes, I am forgiven for my mistakes; His precious blood covers my every sin. My words had been nailed to the cross before they were even formed. Yes, I am forgiven.
My inability to control my tongue, to filter and capture my thoughts before they leave my internal being means there is work still to be done.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21.
I don’t really do condemnation any more, but I do believe in conviction and this is what it looks like. This gentle reminder that words matter, that I am worthy of more, that I should not take aim and fire with the only result, that for a moment, the pressure on this wound was alleviated.
Such behaviour honours no one. Not them, not Jesus, and not me. And the wound remains.
Imagine the world we could inhabit if we let God heal us fully and took our grievances to Him alone. Can we be disciplined enough to surrender our pride, our offences, our pain and allow Him to be Jehovah Rapha – The Lord our Healer?
“He has sent me to bind up the wounds of the brokenhearted, to proclaim release from confinement and condemnation to the physical and spiritual captive, and freedom to prisoners.” Isaiah 61:1
We call out to Him to heal our bodies - the seen wounds. Yet it is often the unseen wounds – the ones we hide because of shame, guilt, or fear that cause the greatest damage. The ones we feel we deserved. The ones buried deep. He still sees these wounds; He cares about them just as much. He wants to heal us wholly.
Conviction lifts these wounds to the surface so that His light can shine on them and maturity declares, “Heal me oh Lord.”
Maturity requires responsibility, it responds, it does not react. I am accountable for my wounds, it doesn’t matter who caused the wound. Just like a physical wound, how it began is often beyond us, but it is up to us to tend to it. To seek the best care, His care, that ensures we can live an abundant life.
Paul’s words in Ephesians 4 stir me.
“So I... appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called – that is to live a life that exhibits Godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behaviour – a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation, with all humility, and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love. Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful.] There is one body [of believers] and One Spirit...”
Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit.
It rings in my mind that I have failed. I failed in keeping His oneness. And I don’t want to fail Him. Not for one moment, not for one word, not for one wound.
You see He didn’t fail me. He didn’t take aim and fire when He was wounded. He didn’t dishounour and disrespect. He was betrayed and He embraced those who betrayed Him. He died for those who abandoned Him.
He made ever effort for us to be able to keep the oneness of the Spirit.
I need to listen and learn. I need to grow up. I need to be responsible for my wounds and my words. I need to follow His example. And why not? If it leads to life, why would I not do this?
As Paul continues through Ephesians 4 he explains the rewards of responsibly managing our words.
“Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].” Ephesians 4:29
I have a choice. I can use my words to bring disunity, to break apart the body of Christ, to halt ‘the bond of peace’ that Jesus died for, or I can use my words to ‘bring blessing to those who hear’.
When we exercise this word ‘blessing’ we are releasing grace, according to the original Greek meaning. When we build others up in this manner, it reveals to those around us God’s divine influence on our hearts, it reflects Him in us. It releases favour from us to the hearer and it evokes in the hearer gratitude for the kindness. We release life instead of death.
This moment of failure was a timely reminder that my words matter. Sometimes we need that reminder in our throw away world. We need to be counter-cultural with our Kingdom Culture. Choose today to speak life, bring your wounds to the Healer and bring your words to the world so that you release a blessing to those who hear your voice today.