Meek or Mean?
We can be so mean to one another when we are left to our own devices. Sometimes we are the meanest to those closest to us. We are born out of the womb selfish and self-centered. We have to be in order to survive by design. When we need something, we cry until we get it and it doesn’t matter what Mom may have to do to get it. Then as we develop and mature, we develop mature abilities of kindness and selflessness that can only be learned through experience, what we are taught by example, role-models and if we surrender to the Holy Spirit.Seeing the news lately of a boy who committed suicide, then seeing all of the finger pointing and all the blame game… makes me sad for all those involved, and all those who may feel bad over this situation. I am sad because I feel this boy had been misguided, confused and ended up relying on systems and beliefs that are ultimately self-destructive, unsatisfying, unrewarding and unsupportive. How did this boy come to rely on such systems and beliefs? Who is responsible for taking care of the young? Who takes responsibility for teaching values, being examples of how to live peaceably, having a successful, rewarding and fulfilling life?
My hope and prayers are that the parents, friends and others involved in this boy’s life will take some responsibility over his demise. It would be a blessing to them if they would. And it would go a long way in teaching others how to avoid such mistakes. People struggle with issues everyday… disabilities and inabilities. Yet, they know they have the love their family and friends at the very least… and that should be enough reason not to take your own life. Apparently, this boy did not think enough of his family and friends to continue on living for them and selfishly took his life. Again, not thinking of those who may love him and how they would struggle after he committed this selfish act.
Bullying… Bullies however mean and nasty did not kill this boy. The boy’s reaction to his emotions killed the boy. If you take a position, prepare to defend the position. This applies to both children and adults… So if you’re bullied what do you do?
- Keep cool. Don’t give in to rage. The Bible wisely advises: “Let anger alone and leave rage.” (Psalm 37:8) When your temper is out of control, you give the bully power over you, and you are likely to do things you will only regret.—Proverbs 25:28.
- Try to put thoughts of revenge out of your mind. Vengeance often backfires. At any rate, revenge is not really satisfying. One girl, who was beaten up by five youths when she was 16 years old, recalls: “I decided in my heart, ‘I will get even with them.’ So I got some help from my friends and took revenge on two of my attackers.” The result? “I was left with an empty feeling,” she says. And her own conduct worsened afterward. Remember the Bible’s wise words: “Return evil for evil to no one.”—Romans 12:17.
- When things appear to be getting heated, get away quickly. The Bible says: “Before the quarrel has burst forth, take your leave.” (Proverbs 17:14) In general, try to steer clear of those who tend to bully. Says Proverbs 22:3: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself, but the inexperienced have passed along and must suffer the penalty.”
- If bullying persists, you may need to speak up for yourself. Choose a moment when you are calm, look the bully in the eye, and speak in a firm, level voice. Tell him that you don’t like what he is doing—that it is not funny and that it hurts. Do not resort to insults or challenges.—Proverbs 15:1.
- Talk to a responsible, caring adult about the bullying. Be specific about the problem, and ask for help in handling it. Do the same in your prayers to God, and this can be a wonderful source of help and comfort.—1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- Remember that you have value as a person. The bully might want you to think that you don’t matter, that you deserve to be treated badly. But he is not your judge. God is, and he looks for the good in each of us. It is the bully who becomes less worthwhile by resorting to such conduct.
Parents need to prepare and protect their children too. I believe, in this situation, the parents are responsible for this incident. In my mind, it’s horrible that this boy felt that he had to claim his sexual preference at 14 years of age. What good could come from that? At 14 years old, you may think you know everything about yourself one day, but the next day you’re completely wrong. How in the world would a 14-year old be able to pin down their identity in such a finite way especially having anything to do with sex? Relationships, attractions and lust are amplified in our teens but they are not what matters most. In my mind, it’s like making a VERY important decision when knowing only a small fraction of the facts.
When I was in school, I did not hang with the popular crowds or clicks and was often challenged, poked and prodded about being different. I got into a lot of fights and struggled with lots of things ended up hanging out with bad crowds… I could go on and on. Lots of kids have struggled with a sense of being different for ages and ages. There are people who struggle with similar and way more serious issues every day. With an attitude of developing maturity in love and obedience, selflessness and caring for others, they will persevere. After all, we are the overcomers… in order to be overcomers, we need to overcome right?
Are we bullies?
We are adults… can we be bullies? The scriptures teach our tongues are mighty. Think about it, our mighty Creator, Master of all we know and that exists created everything by His voice. We are created in His image and inherited His traits, conscience and in many ways, we are gods ourselves. Our tongue is a mighty weapon.
I want to give you some practical steps that will help you tame your tongue. The stakes are high. Your words can either bring life, or they can bring death to your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your friends, your co-workers, and your neighbors. Our tongues can build others up, or they can tear them down.
We’re quick to avoid murder, stealing, and drunkenness, but we often assassinate fellow believers and leave destruction in our wake by the way we use our tongues. Husbands have stabbed their wives with words that are as sharp as daggers and wives have lashed out with tongues that cut and pierce. Parents have devastated their kids by repeated blasts of venom. Children have exploded at their parents with volleys that have leveled the family like a bomb. And churches have been wiped out by wagging tongues that have sliced, diced, and chopped people to shreds.
Listen to what is written in James 1:19, 26: “…Take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight reign on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Action Steps to Tame Our Tongues
- Read Proverbs and James. The Book of Proverbs has 31 chapters, one for each day of the month. Why not make a decision to read a chapter each day, along with a chapter from the Book of James? After a month, you will have read through the entire book of Proverbs once and James 6 times! Almost every chapter in Proverbs has something about the tongue.
- Think First. I know of a young mother who asks her kids a question on a regular basis: “Are your words flames or flowers?” This helps her children realize that they have a choice to make they can plant beautiful flowers with their words or they can unleash a raging fire.Using the acronym THINK, try to ask these 5 questions before you speak:- Is it True? Remember this rule about gossip: “The more interesting it is, the more likely it is to be false.”
– Is it Helpful? Will your words help bring about a solution to a problem?
– Is it Inspiring? Will your words build up someone?
– Is it Necessary? Do we have to say anything at all?
– Is it Kind? Are your words based on a desire to help?
- Talk Less. Your chances of blowing it with your words are directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with your mouth open. Abe Lincoln said, “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”Calvin Coolidge said, “I have never been hurt by anything I did not say.” Proverbs 10:19 puts it this way: “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”I read this week about a woman who had a very serious throat condition. The doctor told her that her vocal cords needed total rest she was forbidden to talk for 6 months! With a husband and 6 kids, this seemed impossible, but she did what she was told. When she needed the kids she blew a whistle. Whenever she needed to communicate she wrote things on pads of paper.
After six months, her voice came back. When asked what it was like to communicate only in writing, she said this: “You’d be surprised how many notes I crumpled up and threw into the trash before I gave them to anyone. Seeing my words before anyone heard them had an effect that I don’t think I can ever forget.”
King David, after seeing how his words got him in trouble wrote this in Psalm 39:1, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth.” While we might not be able to stop talking for six months, we can learn to talk less by putting a muzzle on the muscle in our mouths.
- Build up others. The Bible continuously reminds us to encourage one another with our words. Someone has said that we shouldn’t complain about our spouse’s faults because if it weren’t for those faults they could have married someone so much better! Are we speaking words of death or words of life? Words of life energize people. Proverbs 12:25 says, “An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.”Let me challenge you to give one encouraging word to everyone you talk to every day. You’ll probably have to be deliberate. Tell your son or daughter something that will build them up. Teenagers, give a life-word to your parents. Siblings, say something kind to each other. Couples, affirm and encourage each other at least once a day.
Have Heart Surgery. Why is it so hard to say kind things with our tongues? It’s because the Bible says that in our strength we will never tame our tongues. Where does all the garbage come from that comes out of our mouths? Jesus gives us some insight in Matthew 12:34 and 15:19: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks…for out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, lies and slander.”
God doesn’t want you try to tame your tongue totally in your own strength. It will take more than just willpower and determination. In its natural state, the tongue is a “restless evil”. It’s like a ferocious beast that will not be subdued and like a serpent that’s full of deadly poison.
If you want to stop using death words, and begin speaking words of life, you need a different heart. The good news is that Jesus specializes in heart surgery. Friend, if you’ve never allowed Jesus to change you from the inside out, then it’s time for some heart surgery. If you keep your old heart, you’ll continue to launch verbal grenades and live like you’ve always lived. But, if you ask Jesus for a new one by turning your life over to Him, you can have a fresh start, a new beginning.
Only God can give us the power we need to build others up instead of tearing them down. If you want to be a dispenser of life words instead of death words, you need to be rightly related to God. And, we become rightly related to God through our words. Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”