Meaningless Talk by Scarlett Stough

I have spent a lifetime trying to learn when to speak and when to be silent and what was appropriate to say. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I would like to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned on my journey through life. My “odometer” rolled over to 66 years of age this July of 2009, but I often feel like a child just learning to walk when it comes to using my tongue. I can say a hearty “amen” to the passage in James: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:6)

One of the most important lessons I have learned is: Although it is my responsibility to live by my convictions so I do not damage my conscience, it is not my responsibility to try to argue or bully others into believing what I believe or into practicing what I practice. Those who are interested will ask questions and make up their own mind. Those who are not interested, or who have made up their mind differently, are not going to be persuaded by my well rehearsed arguments. Each of us will give account to God.

Another important lesson was: Just because someone said it was true, didn’t make it true. I have a responsibility before God to search out the facts as the Bereans did when they examined Paul’s preaching by comparing it to the Scriptures. (Acts 17:11) I should not parrot what others teach without having come to conviction and understanding on the matter myself.

Next to that lesson is learning to obey what the Bible says about how to live. Teaching, or writing as I do, can not be effective if I’m not making every effort to “walk the talk” as the saying goes. James instructed us to be doers of the word, not just hearers. (James 1:22)

The biggest lesson of all is learning to obey Jesus’ command, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2) I have discovered the hard way that just as soon as I lambaste someone else for a misdeed, I find myself guilty of a similar one.

There are many other principles to use in deciding what to say or when to refrain from saying it, but these lessons, to the degree I practice them, are helping me learn to “set an example in speech” and to avoid “meaningless talk.” (I Timothy 1:6; 4:12)


 
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