“Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” James 3:3-10 (NKJV)
My late husband spent time during the early years of our marriage in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. The phrase “rig for silent running” had specific meaning to him (as did its companion, “Loose lips sink ships”). Whenever the boat found itself in a situation where it had to be undetectable, operations were instituted to make it so. His area of service on board that submarine was telecommunications. He went through extensive background checks in order to receive the required Top Secret Security Clearance. He knew how to keep things “secret.” Even to the day he died, he would not talk about most of what he experienced.
We live in a time when decorum and discretion have generally gone by the wayside. You don’t have to go far these days to hear the intimate details of people’s lives you don’t even know. The church has its own brand of this practice. We call it “transparency” and are encouraged to “make our lives an open book,” ostensibly as a means of accountability. Unfortunately, we are not particularly discerning in how, when, or with whom we do this. I can’t be the only one who has wanted to say: “Thank you for sharing, but I don’t really want to know you quite that well.”
Now, I believe in transparency. Transparency with God is essential; transparency with our spouse is imperative; transparency with those we are spiritually accountable to is critical; transparency with all others should be carefully considered. It is an unfortunate fact not everyone can, or should, be trusted with some of the more personal details of our lives.
The ability to keep God-given revelations to ourselves is especially important if God gives us insight into someone else’s situation. These revelations may, in fact, be as much a test of our character as a call to prayer. Can we be trusted with this information? Will we blurt it out at the first sign of pressure or in a moment of weakness? Will we show ourselves trust-worthy for greater Kingdom truths?
Spiritual growth is never linear; there are many “zigs and zags” to this journey. We believe we’re ready for the next step–God sees we’re not. This growth process provides many opportunities to prove ourselves. Just as we would not hand a set of car keys to a five-year-old child, God will not trust us with His plans until we can handle the requirements; He makes certain our character will support us when we get there. Otherwise, what He intends as a blessing becomes a death trap.
He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10 (NKJV)
In days past, people better understood the power of their words; they were far more cautious with them. We have become injudicious with ours. We have forgotten God created the world by His Word and that we are made in His image. Our words are also containers for power.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)
We have not rightly discerned the power of our words, and we need to. It is time to learn how to “rig for silent running” when it comes to what, and how much, we say. Just because something can be said, does not always mean it should.
Our words have consequences.
God holds us accountable for each one.
It’s time to prove ourselves more trustworthy.
There’s a harvest waiting to be brought in.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NKJV)
Copyright © 2014 by Susan E. Johnson
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