Matthew 7:12-14 ESV
So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
It isn’t always easy to bridle our tongues when we feel an urge to say something that we know isn’t nice. In fact, when we compare many things that we say to the measuring stick of, “Does it glorify and honor God?” – we find that we fall short. But this is to be our goal, even though we know that we will fall short of perfection.
It also isn’t always easy to control our emotions when something happens that makes us want to lash out at someone in retribution or anger.
But one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self control, and this is the fruit that is evident when we are in control of our tongues and our emotions.
Our emotions are helpful indicators in life, but they should not be what controls us. Just like our senses provide information to our brains so that we can make a decision about what to do, our emotions should be examined and considered as valuable input about what we should do next. But isn’t it clear that if we let our emotions go unchecked and unexamined, that the reactions that they produce will introduce all kinds of chaos and disorder in our lives?
So we should consider our words and our actions and how they might affect others. I should consider, “Would I like someone to say/do this to me? Would this hurt or help me if I was in their position?”
You hear the statement, “What would Jesus do? ” – and Jesus would say and do whatever is going to bring healing and positive change to a person and a situation.
And for us who share this good news (myself very much included) –
The times that Jesus’ words and actions were healing and gentle were when they were directed at the people. The times that Jesus’ words and actions were those of stern discipline were when He was dealing with the religious leaders of the day. It was the Pharisees who acted in the reverse of this pattern, who accused and judged and condemned the people, while holding themselves up as righteous and above examination.
Jesus Christ also warned his disciples against stopping others who are sharing the gospel and healing in His name:
Mark 9:38-42 NLT
John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone using your name to cast out demons, but we told him to stop because he wasn’t in our group.”
“Don’t stop him!” Jesus said.
“No one who performs a miracle in my name will soon be able to speak evil of me. Anyone who is not against us is for us. If anyone gives you even a cup of water because you belong to the Messiah, I tell you the truth, that person will surely be rewarded.
“But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone hung around your neck.
So let the greatest examination not be directed at other teachers who are different than ourselves – but the greatest examination should be of ourselves and why we feel that we must speak out against someone else. Because if we let evil slip into our hearts and our words and our actions, even in the name of protecting the gospel – we must decide whether we have bridled our tongue and controlled our emotions. Would we like those same things to be spoken about us? Would we say that they are loving and glorifying God of they were spoken about us?
This is a hard lesson for me, but I am learning. If you think that I have drawn my sword against you, I can promise you this is not pointed by me at any person. If it feels that way, ask if what you are feeling is conviction – because this was a convicting message for me to receive this morning.