Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
There have been years I’ve done the New Year’s Resolution thing, years I’ve made general goals, last year I claimed my word for the year. It’s all good stuff. I have little opinions on whether any one method is better than another. To each his own.
But I do like to embrace anything that will help me drown the Old Adam. The more creative the better, because that Old Adam, he just seems to have a really hard time going down.
We all have some perpetual sins. Sins that sit and stay awhile, and create crotchety old men inside of young women. The Old Adam has his knuckles clenched around these sins, holding strong, screaming, “But I don’t want to change! It’s so hard. So…much…work…I like my sin. It’s cozy to some extent. It’s familiar.”
I remember Sharla Fritz talking in her book Divine Designabout this concept, likening our Old Adam sins to cozy sweaters that are really quite itchy and uncomfortable when we stop and think about them.
Words are like this for me. Language. I use so much of it, and sometimes, in all honesty, it’s not pretty. It’s not cozy, it may be easy, but sometimes my words leave a wake of sorrow in their path. Accusations, frustration and anger, ill-conceived mediation in the wrong time and wrong place. Words. They can do so much good, but wow, can they burn.
This year, I want new words. While searching vaguely around the Internet last fall, I found an image that stated this simple concept…
Make Each Word a Gift
Words are powerful. The Bible tells us in Wisdom Literature that they have the power of life and death. They can build up or tear down. They can destroy or give grace upon grace.
Many of my words are good. They share God’s love and mercy with those around me. But enough of my words scream Old Adam enough to poke me in the conscience and make me want to turn around, to face the other direction, and by the power of the Spirit to walk the hard path of change.
I want to make each word a gift.
So, while I was getting ready for the live streaming event and podcasts through Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, I decided to make myself a visual. Then I decided that it was something meant to be shared. So,I made a bookmark…one side has gift wrap and the other side has duct tape (all be it pretty duct tape). Sometimes, my tongue needs a reminder to just keep it zipped, but more often, I just need to invite myself to make each word a gift.
Below are the fun bookmarks, in case you feel the hankering for a visual also. I cut strips of wrapping paper and duct tape the same length (9.5” x 2”) and stuck them back to back. I attached a gift tag to the top in order to make it more visual. Blessings on this New Year with new words!
Session 3 – Being gentle-bold in a not so gentle world…Excellent.
Sometimes there are stories, true stories in Scripture, that are just wild. They remind us of a powerful God and His majestic handprint. They signify and remind us that His thoughts are not ours, and that’s ok. He is God and I am not.
Today’s Bible reading is one like that. Let’s open to Daniel 5. If you have your Bible out, please read all of chapter 5. I am going to highlight chunks here for the sake of an easier read on mobile devices.
Daniel 5:5-12 (ESV) –
“Immediatelythe fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, opposite the lampstand. And the king sawthe hand as it wrote.Then the king’s color changed,and his thoughts alarmed him;his limbs gave way, and his knees knocked together.The king called loudly to bring inthe enchanters, the Chaldeans, andthe astrologers. The king declared[b]to the wise men of Babylon, “Whoever reads this writing, and shows me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck andshall be the third ruler in the kingdom.” Then all the king’s wise men came in, butthey could not read the writing or make known to the king the interpretation.Then King Belshazzar was greatlyalarmed, and hiscolor changed, and hislords were perplexed.
The queen,because of the words of the king and his lords, came into the banqueting hall, and the queen declared,“O king, live forever! Let not your thoughts alarm youor your color change.There is a man in your kingdomin whom is the spirit of the holy gods.In the days of your father,light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians,enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers,because an excellent spirit, knowledge, andunderstandingto interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel,whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation.”
Daniel 5:30-31, 6:1-3 –
“That very nightBelshazzar theChaldean king was killed.AndDariusthe Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom;and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.”
In this section of scripture Daniel is asked to interpret the hand and the writing on the wall. It’s interesting that they always seemed to call Daniel when no one else could interpret it.
There’s something different about him, they said. He knows stuff, they said. He has good insight, they said. Let’s ask Daniel, they said.
All Daniel did was make himself available to be asked. He was willing to say the hard stuff, when hard stuff needed to be said. He was honest and bold, but gentle-bold, not intentionally hurtful to make a point bold.
Daniel was not given cheerful things to interpret. The writing on the wall wasn’t touchy feely goodness. This is a prophecy that would bring the king’s death and hand a kingdom over. But Daniel proclaimed it, truthfully. He didn’t add a commentary. He made himself available when Truth was asked for. And that’s one thing we can do also.
We look different. The peace that passes understanding and Hope that anchors the soul are inside of us, leaking out. We have something different about us. We have insight into the things of the world and the struggles of this world that others may not have.
May we also be available. Let’s not avoid the hard conversations. Daniel’s “excellent spirit” was the Spirit of the Living God inside of Him. We have that Spirit too! It may not be that we are called to interpret the writing on the wall of the king, but perhaps a friend is asking you to interpret “the writing on the wall” of their current struggle or to point out the glory of God in their current joy.
Trust Him to give you the words, at just the proper time, in the proper way. This is one reason it is so helpful to be in the Word daily. The words really do knit themselves in our heart and roll off our tongue when we need them.
Onward we go. Sharing His Light. Gentle-bold, girls! Gentle-bold.
Discussion questions –Share an opportunity you had to be gentle bold with God’s Word. How can we apply gentle-boldness while using social media? What is the most difficult topic for you to be gentle-bold about?