Maybe you’ve noticed that I’m a girl that loves words. 🙂
An SAT word makes my pulse race. The perfectly turned phrase makes me sigh in bliss. A beautifully written book is my constant friend until I’ve read the last line. I love to read words, write words and speak words.
But it’s my words that come out of my mouth that most often get me in trouble. In fact, I’ve been known to tell my friends that this proverb should be tattooed on my forehead,
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking…” (Proverbs 10:19a NKJV)
But what I really need is the second part. “But he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19b)
This struggle with over-using and abusing my words isn’t new, and maybe that’s what’s made it incredibly painful to me. In the past six months, these questions have run through my mind over and over again.
How could you have said that?
Why wouldn’t you just stop talking?
Why can’t you learn to just listen instead of needing to give your two cents?
Will you ever learn?
You can probably hear the grief in those questions. Grief over my insensitive words. Grief in the number of my words. Grief cause by how my words have affected others.
Grief is good because it leads to repentance, but when we allow grief to take over, like I’ve been doing, it stops being constructive and starts being destructive. When grief takes over it leads to shame. When grief takes precedence, it creates a broken spirit. When we let grief bully, it becomes a bludgeon instead of a tool.
[Tweet “For consuming grief over our sin to be turned to good, it must be mixed with confident grace.”]
What’s confident grace?
I’ve been studying Job through First 5, and I’ve read as Job defended his own righteousness over and over to his friends. In my reading today Job says, “Let God weigh me in honest scales and he will know that I am blameless.” (Job 31:6 NIV) He is sure that none of his suffering is deserved because he knows that his behavior is spotless.
Part of what we learn in Job is that some of his assumptions about God and His motives were incorrect, yet Job was sure of his own righteousness.
I started thinking that even though I can’t claim blameless behavior (it’s kinda wretched sometimes if truth be told), I can stand in confident righteousness. I’m able to stand in righteousness instead of wallowing in grief over sin because of Christ. In His grace, He bought my righteousness with His blood.
For those of you who have walked with the Lord for a long time, I hope you’re feeling as free as I am from that truth. We should feel shaken by our sin, but we shouldn’t be shocked by our sin. We’re sinners after all. We should use those first moments of grief to turn us away from that sin and toward Christ, but we shouldn’t embrace the grief and hold onto it. We should leverage it to move us forward into grace and then stand in the righteousness that grace gives.
For those of you who are new to being a Christian, some of this might sound like a foreign language to you. Here’s a practical application. Do you wrestle with repetitive guilt over your past? Use that moment of guilt and grief. Feel it, and then pray. Ask God to forgive you and to help you to hand that sin over once and for all. Then, stand in confident grace, the knowledge that you’ve been made right by Jesus.
I’ve been a Christian for almost 40 years now, but I need to go through those simple steps again rather than allowing myself to be mired in grief, shock and shame.
Here’s a final thought that’s helped me as I’ve grappled and struggled to live this lesson in the last week. My friend Cheri Gregory compared our spiritual growth to a video game where the player progresses through levels. Even though one level might look similar to a previous level, it’s more difficult and higher. As we learn the same lessons in new season, let’s stand in confident grace, knowing that God is using this new level to take us to a place of being more like Jesus.
Our recent Grit ‘n’ Grace interview with Tricia Lott Williford left Cheri and I with some beautiful lessons about confidence. Click on the graphics below to hear our interview with Tricia and then to listen to how Cheri and I processed what she shared with us.