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Striving for a Virtuous Life – Wholesome Speech

16 Jul

Today we are going to talk about how, as women (and men!!) striving to be more like Him, we need to pattern our speech in a way that glorifies our Lord instead of profaning Him. We have all been around those whose words are like nails being pounded into the coffin lid; fingernails on a chalkboard; conversation stoppers; joy-suckers. When one sentence can quiet a whole room in shock or anger. I have always been taught that what comes out of your mouth shows what’s in your heart (Luke 6:45) – whether it’s good or bad. As believers in Christ, we are not to be one of those joy-suckers. We are called, instead, to bring joy, to build up those around us.

strivingforavirtuouslife

If you would like, feel free to check out the other studies – Virtue , Hope , faithfulness, hospitality and authenticity.  There is no specific order for this study! A few ‘boring’ things before we get started – I will get all my meanings from dictionary.reference.com unless otherwise stated. For my verses, I will be using my Complete Jewish Bible, unless otherwise stated.

Wholesome

  • conducive to moral or general well-being; salutary; beneficial: wholesome recreation; wholesome environment.
  • conducive to bodily health; healthful; salubrious:   wholesome food; wholesome air; wholesome exercise.
  • suggestive of physical or moral health, especially in appearance.
  • healthy or sound.
  • of benefit to the soul

Synonyms- helpful, good, nourishing, nutritious

Since starting this post a few weeks ago (I didn’t write near as much as intended on vacation!) I have been listening to myself, and to those around me more closely. How common is it for us to encourage someone? I am ashamed to admit that even if I don’t speak it, sometimes my thoughts are not what they should be. And since it’s been so many days, I’ve also taken it one step further – how do people react to each other, in response to their words and general demeanor? This has included people working in restaurants and stores and wherever I’ve been. I have a friend who is very careful about how she talks about others – even in her hurt and frustration. It has been such a great reminder to me to try and do the same. The side effect of doing this observation, is that I grew to have less patience for those who speak without thought to the damage their words were doing – it started to leave an ache inside when I heard careless words. I have come to the decision that I want this ache to linger there, whenever I hear such words, as a reminder that words are precious and should be chosen with utmost care.
Eph 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Building others up according to their needs. Not our needs. Theirs. Jesus’ words were never intended to beat someone down but to lift them from their pain and suffering to life. Our words cannot bring spiritual life to someone, of course, but we can help them face another day or another moment. We can show them His love by our words and actions.
Luke 6:45- “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
This one worries me a little, guys. As I said earlier, I already know how often I can mentally if not verbally, criticize someone. Is that really what I want to be full of in my heart? Negativity? Criticism? I have had enough of that brought on me over the years that I certainly do not want to be one who turns around and beats someone down with her words just to… feel better? Why is it we find it so easy to be nasty? Sin entered the world of course, long ago in Eden.
Col 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  
I keep thinking of the bad habit we as a general people have – we start forming our answers before the question has even been fully asked. It is a by product of our self-centered society. But by doing this, we are basically telling that person that we don’t have time for them; that we are more important. Which is the opposite of how we are supposed to be treating others – with grace and thoughtfulness.
Prov 15:1-2 ” A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”
Be gentle with each other. Gentle. Remember holding a newborn? You slowly slide your hands on either side of the little one, one hand sliding farther to cradle the back of their head and then you gently lift until they are in your arms. But still, you remain gentle as you shift one hand, possibly both, to have a firm but gentle hold on them. Picture your words being your hands and the person you’re speaking to, the newborn. Be gentle, friends. Be it your wife, husband, friend, family member, the rude person at the store, etc. It doesn’t matter who or what – you, we, I , have been called to be gentle in our words.
James 5:12 “Above all, brothers, stop swearing oaths – not “By heaven,” not “By the earth,” and not by any other formula; rather, let your “Yes” be simply “Yes” and your “No” simply “No,” so that you won’t fall under condemnation.”
Honesty. Straight-forwardness. Adding extra words doesn’t increase your honesty or trustworthy-ness. In one of my favorite novels, the main character is told several times to ‘trust me’ by her bully cousin. As her friend tells her ‘you know you can’t trust someone when they have to tell you to.’ It hits me every time with its truth. Let your words be as they are. Be someone of integrity and wholesome speech.
~Laura
A printable for you:virtueseries-speech

I hope you have enjoyed this study with me and as I said above, do check out the other studies in this series – Virtue , Hope , faithfulness, hospitality and authenticity.

Striving for a Virtuous Life – Faithfulness

10 Mar

strivingforavirtuouslife

I do hope you all are enjoying this study on growing wholesome virtues in our lives. What with all the things that we all wrote down at the beginning of the year – ‘lose weight. learn ____. read more. spend less. go back to college.’ whatever they were, I hope that growing in our faith at least made it in our mental list of dreams for this year. I want to be a woman of God in every role I have: a wife that treats her husband as God has called her to – with respect, submission and love – a friend that is compassionate and speaks truth into others’ lives, a sister that is there for her siblings whether it be a listening ear or encouragement that is needed, and a daughter that can now minister to her parents in love, respect and honor for all they have done for her. Looking back at February, I was able to note that I had ended the month much more hopeful than I had started it. The beginning of the month marked a time that I was really struggling mentally with this chronic illness that has stunted my life so much – and yet, is it not still a full life? I look around me at the people in my life and know that, despite not being able to accomplish all I would like to, I am a very blessed woman. And with that realization, came the reminder that He does indeed love me and want what is best for me. This pain that is slowly devastating my body does not diminish that in the slightest. By thinking these things, and a lot of daily prayer, I ended February with a great deal more hope in my heart than at the beginning.

If you would like, feel free to check out the first two studies – Virtue and Hope – and then check back in here! This month’s study will be a little different, because I want to focus on what faithfulness in our lives looks like and God’s faithfulness to us. A few ‘boring’ things before we get started – I will get all my meanings from dictionary.reference.com unless otherwise stated. For my verses, I will be using my Complete Jewish Bible, unless otherwise stated.

So please, grab your Bible and join me!

Faithful :

  • strict or thorough in the face of duty
  • true to one’s word, promises, vows, etc
  • steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant
  • reliable, trusted or believed
  • adhering or true to a fact, a standard or an original; accurate
  • full of faith, believing

Synonyms : ” True. Devoted. Staunch. Faithful, constant, loyal imply qualities of stability, devotion and dependability. Faithful implies long-continued and steadfast devotion to whatever one is bound to by pledge, duty or obligation. Constant suggests firmness and steadfastness in attachment. Loyal implies unswerving allegiance.”

1 Samuel 12:24 “Only fear Adonai and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; for think what great things He has done for you!” 

First, I want to clear up the word ‘fear‘ in this verse. It is not to be taken in the ‘scared’ sense of the word, but rather in the ‘reverential awe’ sense. So to re-word it ‘ Be in reverent awe of Adonai ‘ – for me, that makes what the writer is saying come alive more. Don’t be complacent toward Him, be in AWE of Him. Serve Him faithfully.  Serve Him loyally, constantly, steadily. Not as one willy-nilly, but as one who is full of faith in Adonai.

Prov. 3:3,5 ” Do not let grace and truth leave you – bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart… Trust Adonai with all your heart; do not rely on your own understanding.”

What I get from this verse is to be intentional about keeping grace and truth in your life. Don’t ‘hope’ that they stay- for if you do that, they certainly won’t. What is around your neck cannot go far from you, and what you have written on your heart will stay as well – be sure that what God has spoken to you through His word will always be with you.

Heb. 10:23 “Let us continue holding fast to the hope we acknowledge, without wavering;  for the One who made the promise is trustworthy.”

Continue holding fast = faithfulness. Without wavering = Steady-constant-loyal. And what reason are we given for remaining faithful? Because our God, Adonai, is trustworthy. Want to know what the meaning of trustworthy is? Deserving of trust or confidence; dependable; reliable. Now, seeing some repetition to the meaning of faithful, I’d say trustworthy is close to saying the same thing as ‘He is faithful’. Knowing that someone is faithful to what he has promised, makes it a whole lot easier to carry out your part of the bargain, doesn’t it? Now, this is my example for this: you have plans to meet a friend for coffee say. But you’re tired, you’ve had a bad week and all you want to do is curl up on the couch and watch Pride and Prejudice. If your friend is one that you know will show up at the coffee shop when you planned, it is a lot easier to tell the couch to wait a few hours and go,  than it is if the friend is one that tends to not remember when you’ve made plans, or shows up an hour late. We all have at least one of those friends, so I’m sure you can relate to this example. Isn’t it amazing how with just knowing if the person is trustworthy, or faithful, to do what they said they would, your priorities can change? You might still be tired, but you know you will have a good time because you both have set aside this time to meet together. 

Deut. 6:5 -6 “And you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart.”

The word ‘faithfulness’ doesn’t show up in these verses, but it is so fully described. Love Him with all you are and all that you can be. The following verses show how they are to be in every aspect of your life – sitting, laying down, working, teaching your children, etc. Our commitment to Him is to pervade every aspect of our lives. I know that we’ve all heard ‘give everything to Him’, but how hard it truly is! For me, these past months, I have held onto my pain as a thing to grasp in my frustration. But giving it to Him is so sweet, so freeing. Even in my chronic illness, I will be faithful , constant, loyal to Him.

Here are some verses sharing how God is faithful to us:

Eph. 2:8 “For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift.”

Rom. 10:9 “that if you acknowledge publicly with your mouth that Yeshua is Lord and trust in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be delivered.” 

I love what is required to be delivered. Trusting.  Plus, did you see any ‘but if you are a ___ you will not be delivered?’ no, i didn’t either. Whoever trusts in Him will be delivered. He will be saved. What wonderful love, and what faithfulness that He keeps His promise here.

1 John 1:9 “If we acknowledge our sins, then, since He is trustworthy and just, He will forgive them and purify us from all wrongdoing.”

Acknowledging our sin can be difficult – simply because of pride. Deep down, we all know what we have done wrong, what things we struggle with, but it’s admitting them – out loud or just inwardly to to Adonai – and asking for forgiveness, that is difficult. But how sweet the reward! He will forgive us and make us clean again. Hallelujah.

Psalms 119:89-90 “Your word continues forever, Adonai, firmly fixed in heaven; your faithfulness through all generations; you established the earth, and it stands.”

Psalm 91:4 ” He will cover you with his pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge;  His truth is a shield and protection.”

I like how these two verses go together – He is firmly fixed in heaven, and as such, His protection of us is a sure thing. There will be no ‘walking away’ or disappointing us. Ever. Adonai is the epitome of faithfulness.

2 Tim. 2:13 ” If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown himself.” 

Titus 3:4-6 “But when the kindness and love for mankind of God our Deliverer was revealed, He delivered us. It was not on the ground of any righteous deeds we had done, but on the ground of His own mercy. He did it by means of the mikveh (bath/cleansing) of rebirth and the renewal brought about by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), whom He poured out on us generously through Yeshua the Messiah, our Deliverer.”

Hallelujah. Our God is faithful, He forgives us, He cleanses us and He gave us a helper as we travel along our path in this life. And coupled with that, He tells us how to live so that we may have full, blessed lives.

faithfulness-virtueseries

Above is a printable for you so you can have a simple reminder of His faithfulness.

Thank you so much for joining me in this series, blessings,

Laura

Little Blossoms for Jesus

• Enjoying the old-fashioned & beautiful • • Thankful for grace • Growing in faith • • Learning life • Loving people •

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