There was a woman who lived in a home where sharp words flew like mad hornets on a hot day. Every day it was just bad. Her husband would fly into a rage and she would end up in tears. Finally she went to her pastor. She told the whole story to him. He agreed, "You've got a problem." "What can I do?" The pastor could see that the problem was critical and he said, "I have some medicine which I have prescribed many times that you can take. It will help. You'll have to follow the instructions exactly. I've prescribed this medicine many times before and it has usually worked. And by all means you must keep this a secret from your husband that you're taking this medicine." She said, "O, I will." "Every time he gets angry and the hot words start flying, just slip into a nearby room and take two large tablespoons of this medicine. But, don't swallow a single drop. Hold it in your mouth until everything is quiet again."
So, she went home with the pastor's precious medicine. She was jubilant! That very night her husband flew into a rage, and it was horrible. The words were hot and heavy and the air turned blue. She She hurried into the bedroom and took two large tablespoonsful of the medicne. Then she went back into the kitchen with the miracle medicine in her mouth. As he yelled she cleaned up the kitchen. The results were wonderful. Night after night she took the medicine. By the end of the week her husband had less and less to say.
She went back to the pastor for a refill. By the time she had used the second bottle she notice that her husban was a brand new man. He had completely changed. The ranting and raving had stopped. Their home was a different place. She went back for a third bottle from the pastor just in case. "Can I have another bottle of that medicine?" "You can refill this yourself from the faucet in the kitchen sink. You know, it's just water." Her own mouth had been the source of the continuing trouble.
Come to Proverbs in your Bible. The ancient psychologist, Solomon, says in Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger.
We ought to think about that. Take Jesus for example, can you think of even one instance when Jesus ever yelled in anger against anybody who was yelling at Him? The words that we speak in hot anger are like stones that we throw at a hornets nest. They hurt us just as much or more than the object o our wrath. We need to be careful of what we say.
Tests1 have shown that when someone is shouted at, he almost always shouts back. Now, you can use that tidbit of information. It's scientific knowledge that you can keep another person from becoming angry. You can control the loudness of the other person's voice by the softness or silence of your own voice. The tests have shown that if you keep your voice soft you yourself will not become as angry. So, use that information.
When Jesus was being tried on the last Friday of His earthly ministry, there were some cruel uncouth men. He was beaten and cursed. Uncouth men yelled in His face and taunting Him and jabbing at Him and crushing thorns down over His head. How did Jesus react? He didn't say anything. He responded with silence! Jesus did not lower Himself to their level. When you tell at somebody else, you have just lowered yourself to their level. As a rule, most things that are shouted aren't worth listening to anyway.
I love the thought in Proverbs 15:4. The Tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Just think, the potential is there for a miniature Tree of Life to be living in my mouth. Did you ever think of it that way? That's exactly what it is. You mouth can be a miniature tree of life. If you keep your words soft and sweet you mouth can be like the tree of life. You never know just which ones you'll have to eat. Make sweet pickles, not dill pickles. Sweet words produce a double joy, both to the receiver as will as the giver. It is very hard to be hurt by something that you did not say.
Every day we speak between 5000 and 30,000 words, depending on who you are. That's enough in a year's time to fill a large heavy book. Make sure they uplift Jesus. Make sure the recording angels don't jump for their keyboards to jot down what you said.
Come over here to Matthew 12:36-37. 2. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be consumed." I like the way Jack Blanco says it: For every careless word you say, you'll be held responsible in the judgment. Your own words will exonerate or condemn you". You're going to be judged by your words in the great judgment day. The opposite could be true as well. Just as you are going to be judged by every idle word, you are also going to be judged idle silence
Look at Matthew 12:34(Clear Word), the last part. "The mouth speaks what overflows from the heart. Think of that word, 'overflow.' The heart is in here. And the mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. Let's paraphrase that: "What is in the well of your heart, will show up in the bucket of your speech." That's where your speech comes from. Now look at Matthew 12:35 (Clear Word) first part. "A good man's heart will cause him to say good things."
You see, our problem today is that too many Christians go to church where they are as sweet as pie, but when they get home they are as sour as a rotten orange, and there's a disparity between our profession and our position. Never raise your voice in anger at your wife. Unless you can see a tornado coming, don't yell at the kids. In our Adventist homes, there ought to be peace in the valley. You shouldn't have to wear ear plugs in your own home!
When we get in a sudden bind, and things go wrong, the words that come out will be the result of the over flow of the heart, what you ve been thinking about. So if you want to say good words, then control your thoughts and think about good things. If you want to say good words in the afternoon, fill up on Jesus in the morning.
Look at Psalm 119:103. How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! This is speaking about God. God's words are sweet, what about ours? Our words ought to be sweet.
Talk about others the same way you want others to talk about you. A major part of self-control in this whole world is mouth-control. If you can't control your mouth, then you can't control anything else. Most human entanglements, where you get all tangled up, are caused by vocal cords. You get all tangled up in those things.
Notice one of the experiences of David in II Samuel 16:5cf. I want you to look at a story about David. Do you ever let your kids read the Bible? You ought to be careful, because there are stories in the Bible that are awful. Absalom wanted to kill his dad, and He gathered a vast army together to shed his fathers blood. He wanted to sit on the throne himself. David found out about it and left Jerusalem so there would be no fighting in God's holy city. So he decided to leave so the battle would be somewhere else and there wouldn't be any blood shed in Jerusalem. David and his small army were in the process of going down the far side of the Mount of Olives where they found a secluded ravine leading down towards Jericho toward their escape route across the Jordan river.
As they fled notice what happened in 2 Samuel 16:5,6. As king David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul's family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king's officials with stones... So, poor barefoot David with his head hanging down in shame, dressed in sackcloth, running like a dog with its tail between it's legs. His loyal followers were chanting loud sad lamentations that echoed off the rocky walls of the ravine that they were heading down. And up on the top of the ravine, on the far edge, way up above, was this man, Shimei, cursing and hurling rocks at them. It was a bad day.3. When things are not going well, you don't need someone to come along and make things worse.
But, way up on top of the steep rocky ravine appeared old Shimei, a criticizer of the brethren. These Vulture like folks used to follow Bill Clinton around. At all large Adventist gatherings these garbage dispensers are there to hound the brethren. It is nothing new. So out came Shimei. He came out cursing! He ran along the ridge bad-mouthing David. Shimei took handfuls of gravel and rocks and threw them down upon God's servant and his loyal followers. He was of the type who are swift to believe the worst about someone.
Even though David was guilty of many things, He was not guilty of what this foul mouthed man accused him of. Predator-like, Shemei had been quiet when David sat on the throne. But now that David was down and out he was quick to cast stone at David. You know, it's the character of an evil spirit that tramples on somebody when he's down. Don't criticize somebody when they're down. And don't throw stones at somebody. In 2 Samuel 16:13 it says ...Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt.
Now, what do you do when the dirt throwers come along ant they are showering you with rocks and dirt? What should you do? What did David do? If you are one of Jesus' people you will act just like David acted. David was a man after God's own heart. Look at how patient and submissive David was under this abuse. In 2 Samuel 16 16:11,12 David said, ...Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told me to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.
Blanco says it this way: "Leave him alone. The Lord may have prompted him to do it. I'd rather let the Lord take care of it if He feels He needs to do so. Who know, God may want to see my reaction and if I show mercy to this man, He may have mercy on me."
Here is the Christian reaction to yelling and verbal abuse. When somebody yells at you, this is what you ought to do. David and His men trudged on with the rocks coming down on their bodies. David did not retaliate! He could have appointed a small detail of soldiers to go up there and take care of that man. He didn't do that. But David showed mercy; hoping that mercy would be shown to him. David turned the other cheek. And that is what you need to do. Put that medicine in your mouth and hold it there, and just be silent when you are being criticized. And David is a type of all who will be saved in Heaven.
When we get to heaven we will be surrounded with tender beautiful people, people who are Kind, people who are gentle, people who are quick to help. And, gentle Jesus will be our leader. David will be there. I suspect that Shimei probably won't be there unless somehow he was influenced by David's mercy and changed his life. David chose the higher position even though he was the one who was the recipient of the rocks and the dirt. David did the Christ-like thing. David showed the patience of the Saints. (Revelation 14:12)
You and I really have to be careful what we say. You know how to be careful about what you say: be careful what you think. If you think good thoughts about people you probably won't say bad things about people. So, just guard your thoughts. You see, language is the dress of thought; every time you open your mouth your mind is on parade. Your heart is displayed.
One day a sweet Christian man was taking his rebellious teenage step-son out for a Sabbath-afternoon walk here in Collegedale. The boy disliked his step father. He couldn't stand him. And lingered behind on the trail. Finally the boy started throwing small pebbles at the man. Some hit him in the head. After some time the man turned around and smiled and said to his step-son, "They threw rocks at Jesus too!" With that the stones stopped coming. He treated him with kindness.
You know, we need the spirit of Jesus as we deal with those who hurl insults at us. Pray that Jesus will give you the heart to not yell back.
Look at Proverbs 16:24. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.
One day a young couple struggled to start a farm in Indiana where I was born. They were struggling to get a farm started. One day the man came home from working out in the field he discovered that the cows had strayed away. He became angry. He stormed into the house and shouted at his wife. "Why did you not watch them as you were supposed to do today? What do you do all day when I'm out working? When I come home I'm tired and here the cows are out. You didn't do anything about it. I do all the work around here! I will have to go and find the cows myself!" Just before he went, he could see that his words had cut deep into her tender heart. He had wounded her feelings. But his pride kept him from saying, "I'm sorry!" He found the cows and put them back in.
Several days later he came home again and found the cows out again! He stormed into the house. His wife was not there. She had left a note on the kitchen table. His faithful little bride said, "I've gone out to find the cows. Please forgive me if I have failed to do my part." While reading the note the man heard a distant rumble of thunder. A severe storm was coming. After putting on his raincoat and his heavy boots he lighted a lantern and hurried out into the dark stormy night to find his wife. Rain fell in torrents as he walked frantically calling her name.
He couldn't find the cows. He couldn't find his wife. Toward morning the storm passed. It had gotten much colder. Finally he returned to his cabin. He found the cows safe in the barn. They were in. His wife had apparently found them and brought them back. Then he found his wife, his dear faithful wife lying dead on the cold doorsteps of their little cabin. The cows were safe in the barn. He never knew how she had gotten them back. Many years later he expressed his still deep feelings in this sad poem:
Boys flying kites can haul in their white-winged birds You cannot do that when you are flying words... Thoughts unexpressed sometimes fall back dead, But God Himself can't kill them once they are said!Be careful what you say.
Proverbs 10:19. ... He who holds his tongue is wise. I want to be wise. I want to hold my tongue. I don't want to lash out. Lashing out doesn't help.
One day someone stepped up to me and said, "I think I know why your ministry has been so effective." "Oh, well, tell me." "you are always affirming us and giving us a compliment". Well, it's easy to compliment you folks. You're so nice." I appreciated his words. Do you know what a compliment really is? Verbal sunshine. That's what it is. Give your wife, give your husband, give your kids some verbal sunshine. They need it. We need it.
Ask Jesus to stop the flow of raving and ranting from your mouth. They will only bring you future misery. As the momma whale said to the baby whale, "It's only when you're spouting off that you get harpooned."
Ephesians 4:31 GWT.4 Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred.
May Jesus help us to always speak words of life & blessing in our homes and everywhere we go!
1. Kennyon College, Les Gibbin, 1992.
2. Clear Word by Jack J. Blanco. Published by Review and Herald Publishing Co., Hagerstown, MD. Copyright 1994 by Jack Blanco. Jack Blanco is one of the Religion professors of Southern Adventist University, TN.
3. See Patriarchs and Prophets, by Ellen G. White, p. 737.
4. GWT: God's Word Translation, Word Publishers, Copyright 1995 by God's Sword to the Nations Bible Society.
Hymn of Praise: #15, My Maker and My King Scripture: Proverbs 16:1-24 Hymn of Response: #286, Word of Life 225DJG81194
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last updated June 5, 2005 by Bob Beckett.