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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Do you think you need a filter?

Here is an article I just wrote for Lily 7. (This is a blog for college-age and young single women. Check out the link here on my blog.)

I used to think that I needed a filter. I thought, when I would say something really stupid, sinful, hateful, ridiculous (you get the picture) that “I really should have filtered that!” I truly believed that I needed a filter between my brain and my mouth. That way, the terrible, insensitive, thoughtless things that would pop into my brain wouldn’t have to come out of my mouth, and it would save me a lot of embarrassment. Haven’t you ever said “Was that out loud?”
Perfect example of one of the million stupid things I’ve said, just for your enjoyment. I pulled into the gym one morning with my million kids, and to my frustration, as I was running late for my class, there were no parking spots up-close. What frustrated me more was that there was some sports car double-parked right in front. Double-parked? Who are these people? Who do they think they are? They deserve two parking spots? So typical of some guy, to think his precious sports car deserves an extra spot instead of my mini-van weighed down with a million little people. So I’m obviously ranting internally, while I unload toddlers, babies, little people, backpacks, water bottles, sippy cups, etc. All the while, furious at some meat-head guy in there, staring at himself in the mirror while he sits on the weight bench in a muscle shirt, loving himself, and his car. So I go in, making the extra long trip through the parking lot, drop my kids off in their fun childcare area, unload sippy cups and backpacks, and head off to my class. But I can’t resist stopping by the desk to complain, since I’m still internally fuming. So I see the cute, skinny girl behind the counter who answers the phone “Gold’s Gym, how may I change your life today?” (vomit). I say “Hey, you probably don’t know who it is, but some IDIOT (because I emphasized that word) has double parked his car right up front, while we Moms have to park further out, and I don’t think that’s right.” (rant continues) The perky, skinny girl looks right at me and says “That’s my car.” She gives some sort of explanation from there that I didn’t hear because I couldn’t believe what an enormous IDIOT I was!!!
The Lord showed me years ago, I don’t need a filter. I need Psalm 19:14. “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” This means, I can’t think whatever I want, as long as I just let polite and inoffensive things come out of my mouth. It means I need to honor God with not only my words, the way I say those words, and the intentions behind my words, but also with my every thought! Do you remember how Jesus said that if you look lustfully at someone, you have committed adultery with them in your heart? He came to tell religious people that rule keeping is not enough. Your thoughts and heart behind it mean everything. My words and my thoughts are equally sinful and offensive to God. This was a revelation from the Word for me.
Does this overwhelm you? It does me. Then I remember how I can do nothing apart from God. (John 15:5) The fruit of the Holy Spirit in me is good and pleasing, but the fruit of Jenn, in my flesh, is rotten, smelly, and gross. I learned I have to “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5 NIV) I have to retrain my mind according to God’s Word, and not what comes naturally to me. (Romans 12) Now, sometimes I just pray Psalm 141:3 for myself. “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and keep my lips sealed.” Sadly, I have a long list of examples and stories like the one above. While they may be entertaining, they do very little for my representation of Christ to the world, or the people suffering the wounds of what has just come out of my mouth.
So God has been teaching me how to honor Him with my words AND my thoughts. That means, even if I have restrained myself from gossiping with my friends about someone or something, thinking those thoughts is equally as sinful. This truly does require a retraining of my mind and heart. I want my words to be a blessing to others, and my thoughts to be a blessing to God. I want to be pleasing to God in all things! Proverbs 13 says “Good people enjoy the positive results of their words…” and Proverbs 15 says “The Godly think before speaking.” I am praying that the Holy Spirit would be the check in me, so that my thoughts and my words would be pleasing to Him.

3 comments:

Liz said...

oh my goodness...i remember you telling me this story- pretty hilarious!
thanks for the wisdom and insight into what scripture says.
it was a great reminder for me...

Kathryn, Michael & Alex said...

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24

Because if out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks, we need to be asking God DAILY to check our hearts!!

So good.

Laurie said...

This is such a challenge, Jenn, but one that is so, so necessary to try to rise to, I think--words are powerful and negative thoughts can be just as destructive as harsh words, given they fuel our spirit, as you describe.

I appreciate the reminder that we cannot tackle this alone--that we are not going to be blessed with the fruits of the Spirit (love, gentleness, self-control, etc.) by our own efforts--we need God.

Our closest friends here just began to serve the college ministry in our church through a small group for college students. I will direct them to Lily-7.

And yes, definitely, we should plan to get together whenever possible! I would love that.