18 October 2011

Word Gravity and Winsomeness

There are few burdens more difficult to carry than the weight of harsh words on a weary soul. Perhaps the only thing harder to do is laying that burden down once you have received it. You cannot unhear words any more than you can unspeak them. Harsh words echo in your heart and reverberate in your soul for what seems like forever. If the right word spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver, unkind words are like spent plutonium rods embedded in your brain.

I imagine you could be reading what I just wrote and thinking that someone had said something unkind to me. It would be a logical conclusion. It's not the things I have been told that cause my pensive reflection upon the gravity of words. It's remembering some of the things I have said. My tongue is sharp. There have been times I have taken a measure of pride in being able to deliver an insult that would cut the recipient to the bone but take them several moments to realize they had been wounded.

I have repented of that sinful behavior. I still have moments when my flesh rises and unsanctified thoughts find their way to verbal expression. I think I struggle with this character flaw more than I ought and probably because just stopping yourself from saying things aloud isn't enough. Rebuking your thoughts isn't enough. In Ephesians Paul goes to great lengths to tell us about how were formerly and how we are to be now. Formerly you were that way now be this way. It's the now be this way part I have to obey.

I think empty flattery is one of the cruelest abuses and I am suspect of people who say kind things to me. However, I have to admit that I like being encouraged. We in the Christian community mostly encourage folks to forsake a sinful behavior or habit. It hasn't happened often that I have been encouraged to continue doing something or received praise for a skill or ability. I think Christians often wrongly conclude that affirmation of a brother or sister is somehow a denial of God receiving glory as the author and creator of the talent being praised. Or that affirmation of the person will lead them into vanity or conceit. While I think those are valid concerns, I don't think we should abandon this type of encouragement. I also don't know how to do it.

I am struggling with being winsome and I think winsomeness is important.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.


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