Reading through the Bible together

Sunday, January 19, 2014

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How do you respond when harshly criticized or instructed by overly controlling people? I know that my natural tendency is to get defensive, and maybe even get a bit angry, and respond with hard logic. I know when I am right and can give good reasons for what I did and how I did it. Angry responses break out easily. Too often we just accept this as a normal part of life. As I think about it, my words and attitudes directly register the extent of my relationship to Jesus.

By my count, Proverbs 15 has well over a dozen suggestions dealing with how best to respond to instructions. Then there are at least a dozen more proverbs contrasting the behavior and actions of the wicked/foolish/proud and greedy compared to the righteous/good and wise. Solomon is clear that happiness or heartache depend on our attitude and how we choose to speak and act.

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

My favorite passage is, “The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.” In my mind’s eye, I see a beautiful tree of knowledge, mature and well trimmed out in the field. The wise are those with the ability to protect that tree. In fact, isn’t wisdom defined by the ability to adorn knowledge, making it understandable and beautiful?

The tongue can strip away beauty, mangle, and destroy. Or it can adorn, sooth, and heal. Ellen White recognized this in 4T p. 65 where she says, “Continual censure blights and darkens the life of anyone.” And in AH p.436 she says, “When fathers and mothers are converted, there will be a thorough conversion of their principles of management. Their thoughts will be converted; their tongues will be converted.”

My desire is total, whole hearted, no qualifications attached conversion.

“Lord, my rock and my redeemer, may the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You today. Amen.”

David A. Steen
Professor Emeritus
Andrews University