Faces on Faith: Stinking thinking breeds stenchful speaking
As I was growing up, I was taught that foul language consisted of four letter words that would land you in the bathroom with a bar of soap in your mouth. As I have studied the scriptures, and the life and ministry of Jesus, I’ve discovered that words that produce a harmful odor in the atmosphere of relationships are far worse than a few expletives. Words of judgmental bigotry, destructive gossip, harsh criticism and persistent grumbling all bring a climate of destruction. Furthermore, I think I have learned that those words find their root in some “stinkin thinkin” that is going on in my head, or some soured emotions I am savoring in my heart.
Several years ago when we were living in Ohio, our family had the privilege of having a pastor from Ethiopia stay in our home for a week. While he was with us he had the opportunity to experience many aspects of American life. On Sunday I had him share with our congregation. With all humility, he began with tears by saying, “You Americans are so blessed. You throw away more food than we have to eat. And you complain more than anyone I have ever been around.” Needless to say, it was a very sobering word for us.
Just recently I read in USA Today that Americans throw out 30 percent to 40 percent of the food that we purchase, and that 85 percent of the world’s population could be fed a 2000 calorie daily diet just on what we cast off as waste. Sad thing is that with all of the luxuries we enjoy, our whining exceeds our abundance.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Do all things without grumbling.” (Philippians 2:14) He also penned the words, “In all things, give thanks.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) To the church at Ephesus he wrote, “Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29) But Jesus nailed the real issue for us when he said, “Out of the mouth, the heart speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) You see, the words themselves are just a symptom of some wrong thinking, and distorted attitudes.
We don’t need a vocabulary change. We need a heart change, a way of thinking transformation. In his beautiful Epistle of praise, Paul wrote these words, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good reputation, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let you mind dwell on these things.” (Philippians 4:8) If we do that, our words change. We speak words that build, encourage, bless, help and foster humility, love and forgiveness. And that is a sweet aroma to the folks around us!
-Pastor Daryl Donovan, Sanibel Community Church