Guard my lips

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“Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.” - Psalm 141: 3

These are, without a doubt, peculiar and strange days. These are the days when we must be careful with our words. When difficulty comes, we tend to try and come up with an explanation. It’s more like an impulse. As if everything that happens must have an explanation. For Job’s friends, his suffering was the direct result of sin. And so they treated him accordingly. 

The disciples of Jesus were no better when they encountered a blind man from birth. The verdict was clear to them. It was either the sin of his parents or his own sin, and therefore his blindness was a just punishment. According to Jesus, the poor man’s blindness had nothing to do with either his sins or the sins of his parents. It was there for God to be glorified. 

I hear people claiming they have figured the reason for this virus. Some claim it is a direct judgment for the sins of our society, others claim it is a punishment for the sins of the church. How do we know that? I’m sure that we can find plenty of verses saying that God, in His justice, is and will always punish sin. I’m also quite sure that we can find plenty of other verses that make it clear how merciful and long-suffering God is. But none of them are clear on COVID 19. 

Can I suggest that unless you have had a personal insight and revelation from God regarding the reason for COVID 19 (which I doubt, no offence intended) then please refrain from conclusions. The truth is, it could be anything, including the glorification of God. 

What we know for sure is that we live in a world marred by sin. We also know we have an enemy, the devil, who is determined to destroy and kill. We also know that the Gospel is the power of God to save those who believe. We also know Jesus is coming back and therefore we should expect these sort of pandemics. Can I suggest that we focus on what we know rather than fall into temptation and speculate? 

There is another temptation which is quite deadly once it bears fruit: criticising our brothers and sisters in Christ as they respond to this crisis. I must urge you to resist such temptation. The Bible commands us to resist the devil and he will flee from us. We must resist this temptation with prayer.

Psalm 141 teaches us that one of those prayers should about what we speak: “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.” James also warns us against this temptation to speak too soon: "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” - James 1: 19 

I find, these days, an unhealthy frustration among Christians. Be careful how you use your tongue, especially when you speak in frustration. 

Firstly, I find that those who have faith criticise those who don’t. 

Please understand that God has given us all a measure of faith. “Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.” - Romans 12: 3 

Your criticism is not going to multiply faith in people’s lives, on the contrary, it’s going to make things worse. Be patient with those who do not see what you see. If your faith is a measurement of your spiritual maturity, then be gracious with those who are not there yet. Pray the Lord will reveal to them the need of their own hearts. 

If you have faith for healing and your are assured in your heart that you must pray and speak healing, do that according to the measure of your faith. Do it with joy and without any complaining. But do not criticise those whose faith has not risen there yet. Simply, show your faith by your action, just as James encouraged us: “Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” - James 2: 18

Do not get angry with those who are not there yet. Practice what you preach with joy and let others see your faith at work. Your little fire has the potential to lit ablaze a whole forest. Do not grumble or mutter in frustration. This is not a fit response to faith. 

Secondly, I find that those who do not have faith criticise those who do. 

Those with no faith for healing somehow claim a better understanding, superior knowledge of the Scripture and so they criticise who who have faith, and calls them naive. This is equally wrong and sinful. 

The problem I see with such people is that they claim to have figure out God, without saying it out loud. Let me say this as clearly as possible, and believe me I am not backing away from this: you haven’t come close, not even close to understanding and explaining God. 

If God wants to do something supernatural, He is perfectly entitled to do so.Your problem is that you believe God for doctrine but you don’t belief God for action now, in people’s lives. Well, what’s the point of a God who can tell you what to believe and how to believe if He is not able to minister His power in you today? 

James remind us that faith without works is dead. If you believe God’s word you must also believe that His word can be applied today. Faith is useless unless it is exercised. Faith is good for nothing if faith is simply just a doctrine. 

So, what are we to do these days? 

Let’s start by deciding to fight against our common enemy, rather than each other. The time for petty arguments has gone. The time has come for us to understand that our job is to proclaim the Gospel. Start winning hearts and not arguments. 

Finally, please remember that faith must be in God, confirmed by His word. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We must make the difference between faith and wishful thinking or being determined to believe something. A lot of people believe in all sorts of things, but their faith is not in God. 

There are people, for example, who believe that we must call down heaven, that all there is in heaven must be brought down to earth. We do it with the word of our mouth, they say. They also say we must declare and believe that all there is in heaven must be on earth and all there is on earth must be from heaven. 

As much as this sounds good, you need to understand that some things on earth will remain until Jesus comes back. Death and sin are not in heaven and they will remain on earth until Jesus returns. No matter how much I declare and pronounce, death and sin will be here until Jesus creates a new earth, filled with righteousness and without sin or death. 

When Jesus was on earth He did only what the Father told Him to do. He did nothing without the full knowledge of the Father. This is the wonderful unity of the relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Today, the Holy Spirit aims the glorify the Son while the Son glorified the father. 

We cannot work independently from Jesus. In John 15 we are specifically told: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”

Faith is exercised best when we live in close proximity to Jesus. Without Him we can do nothing. So, do everything you can to grow in faith, but make sure you also grow in love. 

Love one another and encourage one another. If you have nothing to say to encourage others, then you have nothing to say. Waste no time in useless discussions of spiritual pedigrees. 

The world out there needs followers of Jesus who can show real faith and love in the way they act towards each others and their neighbours.  Act according to your faith, with joy and peace. Love one another and live in the light of this fact: Jesus is coming back and it may be anytime soon. 

Get ready!

Tags: lips, faith, speaking, declaring, criticism

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