Archive for September 29th, 2006

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Today’s scripture: Galatians 5:19-25; James 3:2-6 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts (Robert Ferguson):

For today’s “fruit of the Spirit”, self-control, we’ll look at an example where we all could use more of it — our mouths, and the words we speak.

Your mouth can be a weapon of mass destruction.

You may not see it that way. If you are anything like me, you see your mouth as the very satisfying down escalator to your belly. This is an escalator that revels at the thought of melted cheese on anything and extra butter on just about everything. Most of us spend an inordinate amount of time focusing on what goes in our mouths, but how much time do we spend focusing on what comes out of our mouths?

Last week I was enjoying one of my favorite pastimes, watching Monday Night Football. I love it! All football all the time!!! This particular Monday evening was a much anticipated match up with the New Orleans Saints hosting the Atlanta Falcons. It was the first game inside the formerly destroyed New Orleans dome since hurricane Katrina.

As is my tradition, I watched the two hours of pre-game hype which featured several recaps of the devastation of Katrina. In one report ESPN cut to a clip of Reverend Al Sharpton pleading with the media to stop using the word refugee when referring to those victims of the hurricane that were displaced. Initially, I remember missing the good Reverend Al’s point. The victims of Katrina were refugees; they were looking for or had taken refuge from the hurricane. So what was the big problem?

After some thought, I began to understand. These people had been viciously separated from all that was familiar to them. Their feelings of loss, confusion, separation, and hopelessness were not helped by the media’s reference to them as refugees. During this tragedy those brothers and sisters needed to feel that they were still part of something. They needed to be reminded that they were American citizens. Where “refugee” is a word of hopelessness, “citizen” is a word of hope.

I can still remember very vividly being scolded by my mother for a chore that wasn’t done. To this day her tone and the exact words she used are etched in my brain. Imagine the impact that you have with co-workers, family members, or fellow congregation members. Our mouths are powerful tools. How do you use that tool?

How many of us live our lives remembering what someone else told us we couldn’t do? Sometimes we tell ourselves what we cannot do. I would exercise more but… I would go back to school but… I would give my life to Christ but… I can’t. If you say you can’t, then I can guarantee you one thing — you can’t. However, I dare you to say: I can do what I want to do. I can do what I need to do. Because you can.

There is tremendous power in the words we use. God gives a demonstration of that power in Genesis 1. Here we find God speaking our world into existence and creating humanity in God’s image. And the very power that God used was likewise given to all of us! Instead of mass destruction, make your words an instrument of helpful construction.

Thought for the day: Think about the words you speak today. Do they help, or hurt?

Today, let’s join together in prayer, asking God, “What do You think of this past week? Where did I fall short? Where did I do well?” Spend some time listening for an answer.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
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