Getting the tongue out of “reverse” gear and into “neutral” was our first step toward kinder, gentler words. Some of us just may need to park there for a while until we forget all about “reverse”! But in time you’ll be ready to move ahead, to find “drive” on that shift. We will look at four positive uses of that little power-packed commodity known as the tongue. Soon we’ll be zooming along in fifth gear!
One positive way to use our tongue is a proper response to sin and offense. I can guarantee you that offense will come your way because Jesus guaranteed it. But how should we respond? We’ve seen the snare of gossip and slander, of carelessly spoken words or words meant to seduce the hearer into bitterness or resentment. We don’t want to go there. But what should we do?
Matthew 18.15 “If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.” GNT
Luke 17.3,4 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent’, you must forgive him.” ESV
Should we talk in time of offense? Yes!
To whom? To the offender!
Is this our natural course of action? No!
Do we need to exercise fruit of the Spirit in following through with these commands from the Word? Yes!
This is a sure case of purposely putting that vehicle into “drive” and not slipping into “reverse”. How much easier to go home and complain to husband, children, friends, other believers. But the Word says to keep it private!! Am I saying you should never discuss these things with your husbands? Or should single women have no outlet for sharing personal experiences? No — a husband is a married woman’s covering, her head, her chief counselor. A single woman needs a confidant with whom she can safely share, sure of that friend’s ability to practice discretion. But how about sharing with them a positive outcome rather than slanderous words of complaint? Cleanse your heart, repent of bitterness or shallow self-centered hurt. Then tell them about the incident, asking them to pray with you for words of grace so that your brother or sister might be won back!
Husbands are not immune. Best friends are not immune. They are not a dumping post (if you get my gist…) Use your words with care; “take heed” or “pay attention”! Do what is right by using your tongue to bring restoration.
So let’s do a quick review of properly handling an offense:
Why talk to them (the offender) instead of just shoveling it under the rug? The Word says to!
Why talk to them first and only? The Word says to!
When an offense is handled properly what can be the outcome? Forgiveness and restored relationship!
When handled improperly? Broken relationship and a lost reputation!
God has given us His Word, not as a burden or heavy yoke to bear, but for health and happiness. Is it always pleasing to our flesh? Of course not, but if we desire to reap the benefits of Spirit-filled living, we must choose to sow to the Spirit, leaving behind carnal impulse and response. Ask Him today to begin helping you walk in His Holy way when offense comes. His grace is sufficient and you will find your tongue an able minister!