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Muzzles and Filters: Standard Equipment
By: Rev. Skip Myers
web posted March 24, 2007
"SKIPOLOGY" – As children, we had some rather strange sayings that even though they may have been strange, seemed to work. There was one in particular I remember. “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” And then there was the old standard, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We used these choice sayings as defensive weapons when we got into a verbal fight with another kid. They really didn’t work but when used as just the right moment would give us enough time to think of some reply to the insult that had been cast upon us by some verbal bully.
One of the things that never changes in our world is the presence of verbal bullies. You know the people I’m talking about. They are the ones who feel as though it is their God-given right to say whatever to whomever whenever. Words shoot from their mouth in an uncontrolled volley of devastation aimed at personal characteristics, the way one does their job, or as ventilation for which the target has no personal involvement at all. We have all had days where we feel as though we have a huge target on us and every verbal bully on the playground sees it.
So, we desperately attempt to apply the sayings we learned as children only to find that they are totally useless. Words do not bounce off of us but rather penetrate deep into our souls. Physical wounds heal but verbal wounds leave scars within our minds and hearts that call us to doubt our worth as a creation of God. Verbal wounds scar relationships. It becomes difficult to encounter a verbal bully without replaying their last comment in our minds and then the pain becomes all too real once again.
Oh sure, as believers we may forgive but it is difficult to forget. The wounds and scars remain. But never forget that such scars can be used of God to remind and motivate us to remain Christ-like in our attitude and response to such people. Remember, it takes more faith and strength of character to rise to the level of Christ than to sink to the level where they exist. If you can leave an encounter with a verbal bully having expressed and taken up for yourself righteously then you have won!
As a child, I was also taught that my rights end where another person’s rights begin. I do not have the right to say whatever to whomever whenever. I am responsible for the effects my words have on another person. Ventilating may make me feel better but I must be concerned with the effects my words are having on others. I cannot walk away from others with this satisfied sigh of relief while they are left devastated. How Christ-like is that?
I cannot sacrifice truth to be humanly nice to all people but I can allow the Lord to become a filter over my mouth so that His intentions and words become mine. I can allow the Holy Spirit to become a muzzle so that emotions do not rule my mouth. I can grow spiritually so that I can manage relationships less selfishly and understand the needs of others. I can use faith as a shield to stop the verbal arrows and I can know the truth about myself as God lovingly reveals it to me. It may not completely stop the pain but it will help me to move beyond the verbal bullies in life and live in the joy of the Lord.
Let me remind us all about the power of words. They are a gift from God that can enable us to share His love and truth with others if we will allow Him the right to be our filter. Let these verses sink into your minds and serve as a filter for your mouths.
Let no unwholesome (corrupt) word proceed from you mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification (building up) according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:8
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