Does slander matter?

But God cares about our words

Psalm 50:7, 14-23 “O my people, listen as I speak … Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God and keep the vows you made to the Most High.” … But God says: “You refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash. … Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies. You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother’s son. While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But now I will rebuke you … Giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.”

Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Hebrews 13:14-16 This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

James 3:9-10 Sometimes the tongue praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Thanksgiving is a few weeks away, but we can pull out our thankfulness and dust it off now. It matters to our Lord! And so do the other words we say, and our attitude when he speaks to us.

In just a few verses, Psalm 50 references:

  • God speaking to us personally and to all humanity
  • His desire that we pay attention when he speaks
  • The value he places on our thanksgiving, above any other sacrifice
  • The value of our vows
  • His promise to hear us
  • How it hurts him when we treat his words like trash, when we lie, when we wound others with our words, when other kinds of wickedness fill our mouths
  • A final reminder about how much our thanks matters to him

We can’t change our national culture. But we can change ourselves and what comes out of our mouths. We can influence our families, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, simply by speaking truth with an attitude of thankfulness and a desire to bless.

I’m setting this goal for myself, from now until Thanksgiving Day. Will you join me?

P.S. I’m waiting to receive your “But God” contribution!

I tried to catch the loveliness of the raindrops on the ornamental grasses outside my kitchen window this morning.
Wish you could see them as I do!

But the Holy Spirit gives us love for others

Romans 15:30 Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to join in my struggle by praying to God for me. Do this because of your love for me, given to you by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 13:8 Pay everything you owe. But you can never pay back all the love you owe one another (NIRV).

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love.

Last week I had the opportunity to share about Karis’s experience with a group of chaplains. It brought back to me the incredible grace, friendship and love we received from people who “joined in our struggle” over the thirty years of her life. Perhaps you are one of them. Thank you. How could we have survived without you?

Two of Karis’s precious friends, who stuck with her through thick and thin (photo near the end of her life)

As we consider our reasons for thankfulness this week, I also think of you who read and interact with this blog. Your comments and appreciation encourage me to continue, but I’m going to make a change. As an attempt at greater “searchability,” the posted title will reflect the content. “But God …” will still be the theme, but it will appear in the post itself. Feedback to this change is welcome!

One thing that will not change is my desire to post YOUR story of how God has intervened in your life. I would love, love, love for you to write and share your experience with God, to encourage other people and give him credit.

Today’s post is the last one in “ordinary time” of the church calendar, since I’ll be engaged with my gathered family on Thursday, and Nov. 28 is the first Sunday in Advent. Here and there I’ve seen references to people feeling anxious about gathering with their families this holiday season, fearing conflicts over political issues.

I find it encouraging that in this, Paul’s last reference to the Holy Spirit in the book of Romans, Paul shows us the beautiful fruit the Holy Spirit desires to grow in us, the fruit of love. We can ask the Holy Spirit to grow love in us, to increase our desire for harmony with those most important to us, our own families.

We have so much to share and to be grateful for—let’s not allow it to be sabotaged by politics! Instead, let’s listen to each other. Covid has increased many people’s feelings of loneliness, possibly people among our own families and friends.

And if you’d like a great (and entertaining) sermon about preparing our hearts for the holidays, I recommend Alex Banfield Hicks’ sermon yesterday (if it’s not up yet, it will be soon)!

Happy Thanksgiving.