Apples of Gold
by Sharon Betters
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
“Your back side is as broad as the side of a barn,” said a mother to her daughter as the teen modeled her new jeans.
“God needed your son in heaven more than you need him here.”
“Did you hear about… I can’t believe she behaved like that…”
Words have the power to hurt or to heal. There is a reason we have two ears and one mouth. We should listen twice as much as we talk. Words reveal our hearts (Matthew 12:34-37). The writer of Proverbs reminds us that when words are many, transgression or sin is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent (Proverbs 10:19). I shudder to think of the many words I have spoken that did nothing to cultivate life, but rather snuffed out life. Granted, we sometimes speak without thinking, with no agenda to hurt another, but the Scriptures remind us that we need a guard on our mouth, because our words reflect the condition of our hearts. That guard is our filter through which we learn to take time to quickly pray… “Lord, guide my words so they are life-giving rather than life-taking.”
Taking a step back before speaking requires thoughtfulness. Recognizing that my words are sometimes not just thoughtless but sinful, leads me to repentance that includes a commitment to surrender to the “guard at my mouth”, to determine if they are words that hurt or words that heal. Words have power! It’s so much easier for me to blame a thoughtless heart rather than a sinful heart.
Acknowledging hurtful words as sin (life-taking) leads me to repentance. Repentance includes putting off the sinful life-taking words and learning how to put on life-giving words.
The Psalmist’s struggle with his mouth encourages me:
Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Psalm 141:3 ESV
What is the guard at his mouth that the Psalmist requests? Intimacy with Jesus is the best filter. Do you want your words to be like “apples of gold in a setting of silver?” Reaching that goal requires cultivating a humble God-centered attitude in your heart. Instead of adding this task to your to-do-list, recognize that intimacy with Jesus, not a to-do-list, transforms our hearts. Be intentional about asking the Lord to open your eyes to attitudes that spill out in words that hurt rather than heal. No doubt we will still blunder and say things we wish we could pull back. That’s where the beauty of the Gospel transforms us through repentance and a renewed commitment to surrender to the “guard at our mouth.”
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
The Psalmist prays for a guard over his mouth. God’s answer to this request is for us to spend time with Jesus through prayer and reading His Word, asking Him to prepare us for those opportunities to speak healing, life-giving words. Listen and consider carefully the needs of the person in front of you. Will your words build up or tear down? Read Philippians 4:8-9 and ask how you are reflecting each quality in life-giving speech:
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Lord, like the Psalmist we ask for a guard at our mouth, yet like the Psalmist we will struggle to submit to that guard. Transform our hearts with a renewed appreciation for Your grace and the supernatural love and presence of Jesus in our hearts. Use Your Word to grow our faith in Your power to transform us into people who resemble Your precious Son.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go the MARKINC website and listen to the Addiction audio resource with Darryl Strawberry so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Baseball great Darryl Strawberry readily acknowledges that people often think two things when they hear his name: Darryl was a great ball player and Darryl lost it all to drugs. In this interview, Darryl and his wife, Tracy, share their story of drug addiction and how they found a pathway to restoration and wholeness. Their transparent responses to hard questions will challenge listeners to examine their own lives. It’s our hope that their redemption story will offer help and hope to others who are at the bottom of life or perhaps ready to make choices that can only lead to dark places. Is there hope when getting and using drugs are the first things you think of in the morning, throughout the day and the last thing before you close your eyes in sleep? In this moving interview, Darryl and Tracy Strawberry confidently exclaim, “Yes! There is help and hope!”