One of the more unpleasant parts of my job is listening to my own sermons. Yes, I do that most weeks. I listen to see what verbal faux pas I make – and they are many. I don’t like to listen to myself talk, but hopefully in doing so, I will do better the next time. I must admit, I have even fallen asleep on one of my sermons. So I guess I shouldn’t be too hard on that man in our 11:00 service who looks like he is about to fall asleep each week.
I wonder what would happen if all of us could hear a recording of ourselves on a regular basis, especially if the recording were made without our knowledge of it? I would like to think that if we heard some of the things we say and the way in which we say them that we would say some different things and say things differently.
I sadly confess that lately I have spent too much time speaking negatively. I am also afraid that my negativity has “rubbed off” on others and caused them to tilt more toward the negative side. I am guilty of violating Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 4:29:
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
It is easy for us to think that because those of whom we are critical never hear our words that no harm is done. Unfortunately, such is not the case. First, our critical words corrupt rather than build up those who DO hear them. Our words have a way of pulling innocent people down into our spiral of negativity. Our words have the potential to drag down others who might otherwise be perfectly blissful and positive.
Of more consequence however is the spiritual ramification of our negativity. While the objects of our criticisms may never hear our words, the Holy Spirit does – and our negativity breaks his heart. Paul immediately follows up his admonition concerning our words with the command:
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . . – Ephesians 4:30a
More than anything else in my life, I want revival. The Holy Spirit will not renew my heart as long as it remains critical of brothers and sisters in Christ. Will you join me in asking God to change our heart and change our words? After all, the two are inseparable.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:45