Wednesday, April 20, 2011

40 Days of Lint, Day Thirty-Seven: Mean Bunnies

My daughters each had a Mini Rex bunny, when they were little, otherwise known as Velveteen Rabbits. Smokey and Midnight were small, silky soft, and the epitome of cuteness. They looked so small, defenseless, and lovable. But they had a mean streak and liked to bite. How could these sweet creatures bite the very ones who fed them, cleaned their cages, and just wanted to hold and love them? Yet on occasion, they did, for no other reason than they didn't feel like snuggling at the moment.

The Lord has shown me I do the same thing, with my tongue, to the people around me. I hurt the ones I love the most. This is one of the dust bunnies He's encouraging me to clear out this year. Scripture has a lot to say about our tongues because they can cause so much damage. Paul said is well, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).

Peter had a major problem with talking before thinking, too. His advice, from one who had to do it himself, is to, “clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk” (1 Peter 2:1, Message). That verse takes in a lot of territory! Malice is speaking with evil intent (hurting someone on purpose); pretense is pretending to be what we're not; envy is wanting what others have; and hurtful talk are put-downs, joking that get carried away – both especially prevalent in our day.

How much of what we call humor is actually putting down another individual or group? We laugh at biting comments in the guise of entertainment or good natured joking. Then we're surprised when our relationships suffer. Even if people don’t admit to it, personal jabs hurt.

I’ve been convicted about my sarcasm and snappy comebacks this year and how they affect my loved ones, but also the people I’m trying to reach for Christ. Ephesians 4:29 has been my challenge verse:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” That has 5 specific guidelines to evaluate our words:
* Is it clean?
* Is it helpful?
* Does it build others up or tear them down?
* Is it what they need to hear?
* Will it benefit anyone else if overheard?

That’s a big order! Some days I do better than others. I've noticed that I’m a little like our Velveteen rabbits - sweet and soft most of the time, until I'm tired, hungry, feel caged in, or fed up with circumstances. Then, watch out! God is teaching me to stop and think before I hurt others with what I say. I’m responsible to take care of my own needs and not expect others to guess what I’m feeling. Sometimes I need to stop talking and take a bubble bath, go for a walk, vent to God or in my journal, create something, or have a healthy snack.

I don’t know if words are a problem for you, but I suspect they are for many. If so, God will expose those mean dust bunnies and show you how to keep them from attacking when you're stressed. The people I know whose words are the sweetest are the ones who speak words of praise and encouragement.
Lint Removed: Hurtful Words
Cleaning Process: Speaking Words that Help and Heal

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