He That Hath an Ear, Part 1
He That Hath an Ear, Part 1
As the story goes, an elderly Christian man, who attended prayer meeting faithfully, consistently confessed the same things during prayer and testimony time. His prayer always went something like this: "O Lord, since last we gathered, the cobwebs have come between me and Thee. Clear away the cobwebs, that I may again see Thy face."
One night, after the old man had prayed this prayer for the umpteenth time, another church member whispered to the person sitting next to him, "Why doesn’t he just ask the Lord to kill the spider?"
Good question! Several thoughts came to mind the first time I heard this story. First of all, is it not true that we allow too many things, usually trivial things, to come between our Saviour and ourselves? And secondly, have you ever noticed yourself getting into a habit of saying things that you do not even realize you are saying?
Words. What a powerful medium of communication! We can hardly drive down the street without being bombarded by words on signs. Turn on the radio and television and you are certain to hear lots of words. TV and radio marketers sell airtime, so advertisers can sell products to people who watch and listen. It is big business. It makes a lot of money and sells a lot of products. Time is money, and money is time. Squeeze as many words into as few seconds as possible. Do you realize that the rate of words coming at you from the radio and/or TV can be double or even higher than that of a normal conversation? Advertisers seem to count on an overload of auditory stimulation. Too much, too fast. The ears cannot hold on to it long enough to make sense of it, but it goes into the brain and is processed just the same. Scary thought, is it not? Powerful, nonetheless.
Strangers in Paradise
Despite what the evolutionists say, our ancestors did not slither out of oceanic slime. Neither were their earliest communications guttural grunts. I am so thankful that our Creator, the true God, has a wonderful plan for us. From the beginning, Adam and Eve held direct communion with God. They walked and talked with Him in the Garden. They spoke with Him face to face. How glorious that must have been, and how wonderful it will be for the redeemed in the earth made new to once again hold communion with Him, to walk and talk with God. Awesome!
Thankfully, there is yet time, though not much time, for us to consider these things. For the most part, we are still too much of this world. By our thoughts, by our actions, and especially by our words, we reveal to the universe what is in our hearts. It is from the abundance of our hearts that our mouths speak. (Luke 6:45; Matthew 12:34.)
"But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." 1 Peter 1:15.
Here are some words, written by the Pen of Inspiration for God’s people living in the last days of this earth’s history: "If ever a people needed to walk before God as did Enoch, Seventh-day Adventists need to do so now, showing their sincerity by pure words, clean words, words full of sympathy, tenderness, and love." Testimonies, vol. 7, 155.
"Those who are occupied with earthly things, enjoy a low, cheap level, and their souls could not bear the purity of the saints in light. The conversation of heaven would be a language which they could not understand, and they could not endure the purity of infinite holiness." The Signs of the Times, October 3, 1895.
"You do not know the sentiments and principles of heaven; its language is almost a strange language to you . . . ." Testimonies, vol. 5, 437.
" ‘Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom’ [James 3:13]. My brethren and sisters, how are you employing the gift of speech? Have you learned so to control the tongue that it shall ever obey the dictates of an enlightened conscience and holy affections? Is your conversation free from levity, pride and malice, deceit and impurity? Are you without guile before God? Words exert a telling power. Satan will, if possible, keep the tongue active in his service. Of ourselves we cannot control the unruly member. Divine grace is our only hope. Those who are eagerly studying how they may secure the pre-eminence, should study rather how they may gain that wisdom which is ‘first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy’ [verse 17]. He who has Christ formed within, the hope of glory, will ‘show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.’ " The Signs of the Times, February 8, 1883.
"The light given me by the Word of God is that the speech needs to be converted and sanctified. The Lord requires that education should be given in the science of conversation. This faculty has been much abused and perverted. It has not been held as a precious gift from God, to be used to glorify His name. The words are a power for good or evil, a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Choice words must be spoken by those who would do service for Christ. Haphazard words, hasty, common words, talking for the sake of talking, when silence would be better, is a sin. . . . Manuscript 74, 1897." The Voice in Speech and Song, 30, 31.
"I have heard loose language, careless, vulgar words, and slang phrases from the lips of parents. I have heard these words taken up and repeated by their children; and my heart has been pained; for I knew that these parents had sown the seed which Satan delights to cultivate. I knew that they had sown seeds that would produce a harvest of corruption. And oh, how Jesus is pained by the cruel work of these parents!" The Health Reformer, July 1, 1889.
"A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul." Proverbs 18:7.
In researching this topic, I spent some time at the library looking through the reference section. Surprisingly, they had several slang dictionaries. From these volumes, the following is a list of some slang words with their definitions. Many of them, such as darn, fooey, fudge, and screw, I choose not to print here.
slang: a cant clipped form of language; originally, the specialized vocabulary and idioms of those in the same type of work, way of life, etc.; now usually called "shop talk," jargon, lingo. Colloquial language that is outside of conventional or standard usage and consists of both coined words (blurb, whoopee), and those with new or extended meanings (rubber-neck, sap, screw); slang develops from the attempt to find fresh and vigorous, colorful, pungent or humorous expression.
gee: corruption of Jesus; spoken as an oath or exclamation
gee whiz: euphemism for Jesus Christ
golly: corruption of God
gosh: corruption of God
guy: euphemism of God
heck: corruption of hell
jiminy cricket: euphemism of Jesus Christ
my goodness: vain corruption of "my God;" spoken as an oath or exclamation
shoot: euphemism for [expletive]
son-of-a-gun: euphemism for [expletive]
The servant of the Lord has much to say about the use of slang.
"The good man, from the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things. [Matthew 12:35.] Why? Because Christ is an abiding presence in the soul. The sanctifying truth is a treasure-house of wisdom to all who practice the truth. As a living spring it is springing up unto everlasting life. The one who has not Christ abiding in his heart will indulge in cheap talk, exaggerated statements, that make mischief. The tongue that utters perverse things, common things, slang phrases, that tongue needs to be treated with the hot coals of juniper. Manuscript 17, 1895." Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 2, 577.
"Let it be seen that your life is hid with Christ in God. Let there be no hasty speech, no cheap words, no slang phrases. Let it be demonstrated that you are conscious of a Companion whom you honor, and that you will not make Him ashamed of you. Only think, we are representatives of Jesus Christ! Then represent His character in words, in deportment. . . ." That I May Know Him, 198.
Offerings to Satan?
"An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire." Proverbs 16:27.
"Unless we control our words and temper, we are slaves to Satan. We are in subjection to him. He leads us captive. All jangling and unpleasant, impatient, fretful words are an offering presented to his satanic majesty. And it is a costly offering, more costly than any sacrifice we can make for God; for it destroys the peace and happiness of whole families, destroys health, and is eventually the cause of forfeiting an eternal life of happiness." The Adventist Home, 437.
"Among the members of many families there is practiced the habit of saying loose, careless things; and the habit of tantalizing, of speaking harsh words, becomes stronger and stronger as it is indulged, and thus many objectionable words are spoken that are after Satan’s order and not after the order of God. . . . Burning words of passion should never be spoken, for in the sight of God and holy angels they are as a species of swearing." Ibid., 439.
"Of the unsanctified tongue the apostle James writes: ‘The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.’ Satan puts into the minds thoughts which the Christian should never utter. The scornful retort, the bitter, passionate utterance, the cruel, suspicious charge, are from him. How many words are spoken that do only harm to those who utter them and to those who hear! Hard words beat upon the heart awaking to life its worst passions. Those who do evil with their tongues, who sow discord by selfish, jealous words, grieve the Holy Spirit; for they are working at cross-purposes with God." Review and Herald, May 12, 1910.
Happy The Home
There is no other place on earth where our true characters are more fully exposed than in our very own homes. In the book, The Adventist Home, Chapter 71 is devoted entirely to "Speech," and it would do us well to spend time in serious contemplation of the counsel found therein.
"Unhappiness is often caused by an unwise use of the talent of speech. The word of God does not authorize anyone to speak harshly, thereby creating disagreeable feelings and unhappiness in the family. The other members of the family lose their respect for the one who speaks thus, when if he would restrain his feelings, he might win the confidence and affection of all." The Adventist Home, 437.
"Hard words beat upon the heart through the ear, awakening to life the worst passions of the soul and tempting men and women to break God’s commandments. . . . Words are as seeds which are planted." Ibid., 439.
"The husband or the wife may utter words that are liable to provoke a hasty reply, but let the one who is spoken to keep silence. In silence there is safety. Often silence is the severest rebuke that could be given to the one who has sinned with his lips . . . ." Ibid., 442.
"Words that intimidate, creating fear and expelling love from the soul, are to be restrained . . . ." Ibid., 308.
"A lack of courtesy, a moment of petulance, a single rough, thoughtless word, will mar your reputation, and may close the door to hearts so that you can never reach them." Ibid., 38
"Passionate words sow seeds that produce a bad crop which no one will care to garner. Our own words have an effect upon our character, but they act still more powerfully upon the characters of others. The infinite God alone can measure the mischief that is done by careless words. These words fall from our lips, and we do not perhaps mean any harm; yet they are the index of our inward thoughts, and work on the side of evil. What unhappiness has been produced by the speaking of thoughtless, unkind words in the family circle! Harsh words rankle in the mind, it may be for years, and never lose their sting. As professed Christians, we should consider the influence our words have upon those with whom we come into association, whether they are believers or unbelievers. Our words are watched, and mischief is done by thoughtless utterances. No after association with believers or unbelievers will wholly counteract the unfavorable influence of thoughtless, foolish words. Our words evidence the manner of food upon which the soul feeds." The Youth’s Instructor, June 27, 1895.
I Want to Be Like Jesus
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight . . . ." Psalm 19:14.
Before we leave the subject of the incorrect use of the tongue, it is important for us to take a look at our Example. So often I hear people say "I just want to be like Jesus." And this is good. Unfortunately, we seldom have the proper understanding of Jesus. Most people want us to believe that Jesus never raised His voice, that He never rebuked anyone. Inspiration says differently.
Speaking of John, the Son of Thunder, "Jesus rebuked this self-seeking, disappointed his ambitions, tested his faith." The Acts of the Apostles, 539.
"Jesus rebuked the disciples and commanded the crowd to make way for these faithful mothers with their little children . . . ." The Adventist Home, 273.
"Jesus rebuked his disciples, saying ‘Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of . . . .’ " Review and Herald, February 15, 1881.
Of course, there are also many accounts where Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day, the scribes, Pharisees, priests, etc.
"The scribes and Pharisees claimed to be invested with divine authority similar to that of Moses. They assumed to take his place as expounders of the law and judges of the people. As such they claimed from the people the utmost deference and obedience. Jesus bade His hearers do that which the rabbis taught according to the law, but not to follow their example. They themselves did not practice their own teaching.
"And they taught much that was contrary to the Scriptures. Jesus said, ‘They bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.’ [Matthew 23:4.] The Pharisees enjoined a multitude of regulations, having their foundation in tradition, and unreasonably restricting personal liberty. And certain portions of the law they so explained as to impose upon the people observances which they themselves secretly ignored, and from which, when it served their purpose, they actually claimed exemption." The Desire of Ages, 612.
"The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, likening them to sepulchers that do not appear, hidden from sight, but full of corruption. The Lord hates all deception, secrecy, and guile. This is Satan’s work; the work of God is open and frank." Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 274.
"Many who listened to the teachings of Christ said, ‘Never man spake like this man.’ [John 7:46.] But his words, that comforted, strengthened, and blessed the needy, that were as bread to the hungering soul, were as bitterness to the scribes and Pharisees. . . .
"Jesus spoke as one having knowledge and authority. The denunciation he uttered against the Jews condemned their formalism and hypocrisy. His scathing rebukes and denunciation of formalism have the same force today as they had in the days of the scribes and Pharisees, and apply to those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof." Sabbath School Worker, December 1, 1894.
Some of the most memorable incidents were when Jesus pronounced woes upon the scribes and Pharisees, and when He cleared the temple—twice. I have actually had people try to convince me that Jesus did not raise His voice nor demonstrate any passion while doing this. However, to the contrary, in many places Inspiration recounts the scenes of Jesus’ words and actions in vivid detail:
"Dishonest dealing was practiced by the men who brought cattle to sell in the temple courts; but the word of command was given; divinity flashed through humanity, and not trafficker or priest in his gorgeous dress looking on that countenance dared to remain. In haste all fled from the temple courts. Now under the symbol of the blighted tree Christ presents before His disciples the righteous anger of God in the destruction of Jerusalem." The Signs of the Times, February 15, 1899.
"Divinity flashed through humanity, and the evil one could not resist the authority of the divine voice, as Jesus said, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan; for it is written . . . .’ " Review and Herald, October 29, 1895.
"In His weakness, Christ laid hold of God. Divinity flashed through humanity. Christ stood revealed as the commander of heaven, and His words were the words of One who has all power . . . ." The Signs of the Times, December 10, 1902.
"His divinity flashed out before them with unmistakable power . . . ." Prophets and Kings, 712.
"Divinity flashed through humanity, and the soldiers were powerless before him . . . ." Review and Herald, July 12, 1892.
"There was a restraint upon these rulers [Pharisees]. They did not dare to do the things they longed to do; for divinity flashed through humanity as he spoke to the people . . . ." The Youth’s Instructor, September 30, 1897.
"As Jesus looked upon the people, it seemed to them that He read their very souls. Divinity flashed through humanity. There was indignation and anger in His look because of their hypocrisy and the hardness of their hearts. He hated their duplicity, their ingenious methods for resisting truth and righteousness. . . ." Review and Herald, August 10, 1897.
"As the eye of Jesus swept over the scene of busy traffic, divinity flashed through His humanity. He ‘cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.’ [Matthew 21:12, 13.] The traffic suddenly stopped, and the throng of buyers and sellers fled as though a company of armed men were pursuing them." The Signs of the Times, August 6, 1885.
"Divinity flashed through the garb of humanity. When Christ had made a scourge of small cords, ‘he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.’ [John 2:15.] He drove out the sacrilegious robbers, saying, ‘It is written.’ [Luke 19:46.]" Ibid., September 16, 1897.
Speaking of the second cleansing of the temple, Ellen White wrote: "the priests and rulers fled as if pursued by an armed band of soldiers, or by the presence of an offended God." Ibid., February 10, 1898.
"Christ came suddenly into the temple courts; divinity flashed through humanity, and, raising a whip of small cords in his hands, with a voice that they will hear again in the execution of the judgment, he said, ‘Take these things hence.’ [John 2:16.] . . . These priests and rulers saw as it were an avenging angel with a flaming sword, such as guarded the way to the tree of life." Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers, No. 7, 54.
"Twice Christ’s displeasure was evidenced against them. Divinity flashed through humanity, and he drove out the buyers and sellers from the temple courts. . . . It was here divinity flashed through humanity, and the priests and rulers fled from before Him; for there was as the appearance of a flashing sword, turning every way like the sword to guard the tree of life." Pamphlet 146, 28, 17.
[All emphasis supplied.]
To be concluded . . .
May 2003 Table of Contents