Keys to the Kingdom By Carolyn Tucker
I was shopping in a very small store out of town and overheard two friends talking. Both ladies knew I was there and obviously didn’t care. “Betty” asked “Susan” if she had quit coming to church. Susan answered, “No, not yet anyway.“ After a few more exchanges, Susan said, “Well, I’m a good person, I don’t go out and sin, I don‘t…blah blah blah.” Then both women proceeded to criticize and complain about the worship music that they hated. Then they began to tear down the young pastor. They freely talked as if I wasn’t there hearing every word. I assure you, God heard every word too.
As I was subjected to this negative barrage of words, I became disheartened and greatly saddened. I realized that both of these dear ladies had no idea what God thought of their conversation. Although Susan considered herself to be a forthright individual, she was completely clueless that God was offended and displeased with her conversation. God is all about love because He is love. He is full of mercy and lovingkindness, and I heard none of those life-giving attributes in the words being uttered. The young pastor needed their prayers, support, and encouragement — not their criticism and judgment. Like an F5 tornado, these destructive attitudes and words will kill anything in its path.
I have the capacity to be just a hop, skip, and a jump away from doing the very same things that annoy the socks off of me. So every day I need to be purposely mindful of that unruly member of my body (the tongue). “With our tongues, we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image” (James 3:9 MSG). “And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:10 NLT).
It’s human nature to look at ourselves through rose-colored glasses. “…I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves” (Romans 12:3 NLT). Like a gunnysack full of rattlesnakes, I want to stay away from being proud and holier-than-thou. Jesus opposed the attitudes and actions of the “religious” people because of their pride and self-righteousness. “There are people who think they are pure when they are as filthy as they can be” (Proverbs 30:12 TEV).
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give You a tenth of my income.‘ But the tax collector stood at a distance and…prayed. He beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ’O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:9-13 NLT).
I must keep a critical mouth closed and a loving heart open. Let’s always take the high road and choose love because Jesus said it wins. And the apostle Paul said love was the greatest of anything.
The Key: Let’s use our mouths to speak love and life because we don’t want to kill anybody around us.