If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. James 1:26
A woman inspired me with her story earlier this week. I’d love to invite us ALL to do a fast similar to the one she decided to do.

THE CHALLENGE

Let’s seek to avoid the following for 21 days:
  • Destructive criticism
  • Insults
    • including sarcastic or “joking” ones
  • Complaining
  • Arguing

A Critical, Judgmental Spirit Destroys People

Our goal is to LIVE the Christian life, not just to have head knowledge of it.
So let’s invite the Lord, Himself, into our words to show us what His will is for us regarding how we use our mouths. First, let’s avoid hurtful, destructive criticism – the kind of negative words designed to tear others down. Those kinds of words don’t benefit anyone. They hurt our relationships. They hurt people. And they grieve God’s heart.
There is such a thing as constructive criticism and there is such a thing as a wise, godly rebuke. These are good things when used rightly and with right motives. We all need to receive loving feedback about our blind spots at times.
From www.gotquestions.org about a critical spirit:
Jesus is not saying that we should not be discerning or that we should ignore the fallen nature of the world. He is also not saying that we must never, under any circumstance, criticize anyone else. In fact, the Bible tells us that we are to judge rightly (John 7:24). However, we are not to criticize with malicious intent or out of pride, hypocrisy, or self-righteousness. We cannot assume that we are impartial or that we can fairly exact our standards on others. Humans have naturally deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9) that allow for blind spots and inappropriate comparisons. Only God can judge with perfect accuracy (Hebrews 4:12; James 4:11-12; 1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Chronicles 28:9; Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 19:11). And our discernment is only valid when it is informed by a renewed nature in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-16; John 16:13). Only when we are submitted to Christ and honest with ourselves will our judgment serve to edify rather than destroy.

Insults Deeply Wound Others

Our words have “the power of life and death” according to scripture (Prov. 18:21). What we say matters. There are two primary commands Jesus gives us. The first is that we are to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. The second is that we are to love other people as we love ourselves (Matt. 22:36-40). Then Jesus connects the two. We learn that He counts the way we treat other people, even the least of them, as the way we treat Him (Matt. 25:31-46). And in 1 John, we learn that “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar. For the person who does not love his brother or sister whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” I demonstrate my love for God in tangible ways in the way I speak to – and treat – the people around me. Even the difficult ones.

So what we say to people matters. A lot. Let’s invite God to help us stop using our words as weapons to cut others down and to stop speaking death to people – and even to ourselves.

  • Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Pet. 3:9
  • Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent. Prov. 11:12
  • A fool’s displeasure is known at once, but whoever ignores an insult is sensible. Prov. 12:16
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18

Complaining and Negativity Hurt Our Witness for Christ and our Fellowship with Him

When we complain and highlight all that is wrong with life and focus on bad things, we reveal a lack of trust in the Lord and unbelief in our hearts. God calls us to live lives of thanksgiving in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). He calls us to focus our minds on Him and on all of the good things and blessings we can find (Phil. 4:8).

If we choose to complain and grumble about our lot in life, we hurt our walk with the Lord and we destroy our witness for Him. How can anyone be drawn to Jesus if we are so dissatisfied with Him and we don’t trust Him, ourselves? God is not saying we can’t ask Him for help. We absolutely can! And we can ask others for help, too, when we need to, and it is appropriate. We can respectfully share if there is a problem that needs to be addressed. But for believers in Christ, there is no room in our lives for complaining and constantly harping on negative things. We are to live lives of faith. Faith doesn’t complain – it trust God and seeks Him, inviting Him into the situation to do something glorious.

We also need to remember that God intends to use our trials to help us grow in our faith and spiritual maturity. The thing I am complaining about may be the answer to my prayers that God has sent to help me grow. Not that we should try to find suffering or put ourselves in suffering. But as a believer, I should have a totally different outlook on annoying and difficult things. They may be spiritual tests. They may be discipline for me to grow in my faith. They may be opportunities for God to do something amazing. In Christ, I can learn to count even my trials as joy. I can keep an eternal perspective rather than get wrapped up in the moment.

  • Nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 1 Cor. 10:10
  • Do everything without grumbling and arguing,  so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation,among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life. Phil. 2:14-16
  • Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. James 5:9
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Pet. 4:9

Arguing Is Ineffective, Detrimental, and Unnecessary, for a Believer

We can get our points across and have a voice, especially as we share things we know will honor and please the Lord. We can share the truth in love, using God’s wisdom and discernment. We can speak up against things that are wrong in God’s eyes. And we can do all of this without being argumentative, fighting, or involving sinful anger – IF we act in the power of the Spirit of God.

  • A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15:1
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 2 Tim. 2:23-24
  • But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
  • Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Titus 3:1-2

The Ultimate Goal

We can’t do any of this in our own power. But if we belong to Jesus, we can invite Him to give us the power we need to control our words – and even to control our thoughts. That is the end goal. Total heart, mind, and life change by the power of Christ.
  • We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor. 10:5
  • Walk by the Spirit and you will certainly not carry out the desire of the flesh. Gal. 5:16
 

Pray with Me

Lord,
We love You and want to love You so much more. More than anything or anyone else. More than even ourselves. Jesus, if You are our Lord, it means we are to submit every part of our lives to Your authority and control. Our words are often our area of greatest weakness, Lord. Our words reveal the hidden motives of our hearts. They demonstrate whether our sinful nature is in control or Your Spirit is in control. We want You to be in firm control of our mouths, words, and even our thoughts! We repent of our sinful words. Our words of condemnation, judgment, destructive criticism, grumbling, arguing, complaining, negativity, and insults. These things wound Your heart. They grieve You. They break our fellowship with You. We repent of these sinful words – and the sinful thoughts that birthed them. We want to take up our cross today and follow You. We crucify our sinful nature and all of its thoughts and words on the cross with Jesus. We receive Your new life and new nature for us. Thank You that You will empower us to walk in Your ways and to offer our mouths and words to You to use as instruments of righteousness rather than offering them to the enemy and sin to use to destroy others, hurt you, and destroy ourselves.
Let us act in Your wisdom with our words and let us use our words to speak Your Life – not death!
Amen!

Share Your Experience!

 
Let us know how things are going and if you notice anything different in your own walk with the Lord and your relationships.  Also, check in with us if you need some encouragement!
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