Our sons, Isaac and Ben, are into making paper airplanes at the moment. Sat in their room there is a whole pile of paper folded and decorated into a variety of air machines. Yes, it’s wonderful they’re being so creative but, truth be told, they’re driving me nuts! Our house is full of ornaments and knick knacks that are daily becoming sitting targets. I’ll be making dinner and suddenly I get struck in the neck by a pointed paper plane!
Obviously (I hope!) they aren’t aiming for me or my treasures but inevitably aim goes astray and things get hit that weren’t meant to.
I’ve thought a lot lately about what we might call ‘friendly fire’ within God’s family. Sadly it’s too easy to use our words and small comments to tear each other down and to criticise. It makes me think about how much more effective we would be as Christians if we actively sought to change. What if we stuck together as a family and only spoke words of blessing and life over, and about, each other? How much less inner upset would there be if we gave the benefit of the doubt, and we backed away from coming into agreement with other’s judgements, observations and criticisms.
Wouldn’t it be great if we actually stood as an army and defended each other’s backs, and instead of jealousy, offence and snide comments, we spoke words of blessing, prayed prayers of love and support, and aimed always to lift each other up and focus on strengths rather than weaknesses?
Maybe I sound idealistic, but surely, if we’re going to stand against the enemy as the days get darker we’re going to have to make sure we cover each other’s backs? If we tear down the people who are on our side, aren’t we just giving the enemy a reprieve from needing to come against us?
Now I know we all probably think we don’t really do any of this bad stuff. We aren’t bad people and we definitely wouldn’t intentionally plan to aim to hurt those around us. Sadly though, if we are all honest, sometimes our human nature gets the better of us and before we know it we’ve spoken little comments that do undermine, or put others down. Maybe we react out of our own pain or hurt and we look for those who’ll agree with us and affirm that it isn’t our problem but someone else’s.
Today’s verse is a chilling reminder of the power of our words. Let’s take it as a reminder to watch what we speak and the agreements we make. We may not intend with our hearts to cause hurt or damage, but if we aren’t careful and watchful our aim can go astray. Let’s fix our eyes on the Lord and focus on our own personal need of Him, and allow others the freedom to be a work in progress too. ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer’ (Psalm 19: 14).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for the times I’ve been quick to criticise and judge others around me. I recognize, Lord, that they aren’t my enemy but my brothers and sisters. Lord please will You forgive me, and will You work in my heart to help me put to death my human nature that is self-seeking and selfish. Please strengthen me instead to choose to live and speak words of acceptance and love – remembering we’re all a work in progress and all sinners in need of You, Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ name Amen.
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