Bill Tanzey • Associate Pastor of Community Ministries
Monday: Practice Controlling Your Words
Have you ever opened your mouth and said regrettable, harmful words? Words that hurt another that you wish you could replace? (If your answer is “No,” then you probably think denial is a river in Egypt.) One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is “Self-Control.” That control of self includes control of the words we use. Words can be offensive weapons that cut deeply.
The tongue is the gauge of the heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) In an age of coarseness of speech, tongue-control has become an endangered practice. Everyone demands to be heard, with little restraint or control. Yet, governing your tongue assists in controlling your whole being. There will not be any self-control until there is tongue-control.
For Today: Read James 3 and ask God to help you be aware of all the words that you speak.
Tuesday: Practice Being One Who Forgives
2 Corinthians 2:11
Let’s face it: Forgiveness doesn’t come easily. Because of our pride and egos, forgiving another is antithetical to our nature. Also, it seems even harder to forgive another when that person isn’t sorry for the offense. Worse, our fallen natures can lead us to languish in a position of victimization; not daring to forgive another. The thinking pattern is this: “(1) If he/she isn’t sorry; then (2) I’m not forgiving them.”
When you decide to not forgive (yes, it is an active decision), remember what Jesus did at Calvary: He prayed for those who crucified Him! They laughed and scoffed at Him and took glee in His torment (hardly a crew that was sorry for what they did). They were relentless. Then they invited His blood on their shoulders! (Matthew 27:25) Interestingly, G. Campbell Morgan, when serving at Westminster Chapel, said he expected to see in heaven the very people who drove the nails through the Lord’s hands!
We have a gracious God: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) May we be a people who forgive others as He forgives us.
For Today: Ask God to inventory your heart for unresolved unforgiveness.
Wednesday: Practice Climbing Down from Your Ego Ladder
Here’s a humorous ditty for you: “Edith lived in a little world, bounded on the north, south, east, and west by Edith.” -Martha Ostenso
That clever quote says much about how we can become wrapped-up in our egos. The lofty position of egotism is a symptom of pride. In fact, egotism and pride are joined at the hip. J. Oswald Sanders said, “Egotism is the practice of thinking and speaking much of oneself, the habit of magnifying one’s attention of importance.”
I call the ascent to a puffed-up ego “Climbing the Ego Ladder.” That ladder has two risks: There is never a top step of satisfaction; and, you will ultimately fall from it. Proverbs 16 calls that fall “destruction.” We live in an age of narcissistic worship of self. Yet, our Lord calls us to be people that are low on pride and high on humility. Jesus Himself is the ultimate evidence of being humble. As His followers, may we model our lives after Him rather than after this ego-driven culture.
For Today: Get alone with God, and confess those areas of pride in your life.
Thursday: Practice Acts of Kindness
For many years, I had taped Micah 6:8 to the top of my computer screen to remind me of what God considers important. In this mighty verse is found a trio of acts that God expects of us: (1) to do justice; (2) to love kindness; and (3) to walk humbly with Him. That second act, “To love kindness,” seems to be a lifelong discipline. I must say, it doesn’t happen easily for any of us.
The road to living a life of kindness gets even tougher: Reason dictates that if I love kindness, then I practice kindness. Ugh…That isn’t easy, but it is required! William Wordsworth was so smitten when he saw true kindness, he said, “It is the best portion of a good man’s life”.
God doesn’t look for big-time explosive displays from you. He doesn’t expect you to conquer dragons or swim the English Channel. His desire is far different. It is in the little, day-to-day life practices that matter to Him. One of the “Big Three” is being a person of kindness.
For Today: Ask God to soften your heart with kindness towards others.
Friday: Practice Raising Your Perspective
The disciples had just witnessed an amazing thing: Jesus had struck-up a conversation with a Samaritan woman, and shared the truth that He was her Living Water, from which she could eternally drink and enjoy. No self-respecting Jewish man would have dared speak to a loathed Samaritan, whom they saw as dirty, second class beings, let alone a Samaritan woman!
As the disciples stood there with dropped jaws and shocked faces, Jesus said to them what He says to us: “Get your eyes off the ground and look up!” (My translation) Sometimes, we choose to stay at ground level, never raising our eyes to the heights that God calls us! He tells the disciples to raise their perspectives!
For Today: Ask God to give you a new perspective of everything around you.