John William Waterhouse Preraphaelites
From time to time, I will be sharing some of my favorite artists with you. I picture this beautiful woman as one who sows beauty, stores goodness, gives life from the beautiful garden of her soul.
"A man has joy in an apt answer, and how delightful is a timely word." Proverbs 15:23
When I began to make joy a focus of my life, Biblical joy, and then wrote a book about it, I was so blessed, again, to learn so much in God's word that is changing my life. There are times when I learn truth and feel so guilty that it makes me want to stop being in ministry as I see how much I have fallen short of God's ways for me. But, if I take the truth as instruction for my own life so that I may live better and live more in the grace and blessing of the Lord, then I can just confess how I have fallen short, apply the new truth and move forward with God's blessing of forgiveness and love.
Indeed it is true that what we sow, we will reap. Yet, sowing requires a decision of our will, of our heart, to decide just what we will sow---or another concept--what we will build. An area that has come to my own life lately is that of words. Words have deep and abiding power. It is through words that we come to understand the truth about the Lord. Words can give hope, life, redemption or death, guilt, anger, bitterness. We are to be stewards of our words and if we are walking with God, we are to plant words as seeds in the hearts of our children, that our words of blessing might reap fruit of life and beauty and hope and confidence in their lives.
The legacy of words of anger
I have talked to a number of precious moms lately who struggle with anger, impatience, and yell a lot at their children. Of course all of us have experienced this if we have lived very long. Yet, if we sow angry words, condemning words, guilt producing words, we will sow children who feel hurt, condemned, guilty, criticized, unloved. But, studying scripture in this area lately has really caused me to develop some stronger convictions again, about the importance of guarding my lips and keeping them from pouring out anger--and of asking for forgiveness when I do so! We all do this from time to time, but if we are to grow in righteousness, we need to use self-control in the areas of anger and learn to move more and more into His gracious, patient love over time as we mature in His own love and fatherhood of us.
Sowing words of life
A child has joy in an apt answer, I might paraphrase. And how delightful is a timely word. If children grow up on words such as, "I am so thankful for you!" "You are a blessing to me." "I appreciate you because...." "God has a special place for you in his kingdom." "You encourage me." "I see that you are capable in ____area. You are the rock. You are a joy. You are faithful. You are a lover." "I believe in you." I believe in your dreams." etc. , then there will be stored up in their hearts a deep confidence that they are loved, respected, appreciated, called by God to accomplish great things for His kingdom.
And in marriage....
As in all of the other areas of our lives, we have choices to make. In marriage, we can look at the great faults of our spouses or hold on to bitterness or rights and justify our speeches and lectures and complaints to them--needing to understand that this kind of speech kills a relationship.
Or we can look at those areas for which we are grateful or why we were attracted to our spouses to begin with. We can pile on guilt or discouragement, complaints, unforgiveness for what we have not received. This is the way of the world.
The ways of God, which are forgiveness and love, are to verbalize words that bring life. We must bear our spouses load and speak words of love, respect, admiration and support, and let them know we forgive them. What we sow we will reap.
Same goes in friendship, ministry, for children or for work. We can choose to be a blessing and sow seeds of faith in the lives of those God has brought in our lives, or we can sow death to a relationship.
Scripture tells us that, "The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things."
Interesting that it is the heart of the righteous. When I have had a quiet time and spent time filling my heart up with the love and forgiveness and encouragement of God, then my heart is ready to be like His to those in my arena.
If we understand that if we are to reach our children with the messages of God, then we will see our children, through the filter of the eyes of our mind as those whose hearts need to be filled with the love and goodness and truth of God. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." To reach my heart, I need those who love me and accept me for who I am. Then I am much more likely to befriend them and get close to them. However, if someone is critical of me and I always feel judged, I will avoid that person.
If this is the way I am reached, through the love and acceptance of others, then I know that my own children will respond similarly. If I see their hearts need to be unconditionally accepted, as they are, even in all of their immaturity and perfection, then I will invest in a legacy of good, kind, restoring, encouraging words that build souls and memories of love into their very being.
Conversely, words of complaint and condemnation drive our children, spouse, friends far from us. Or words of kindness, care, encouragement can bring them close to us. We must choose and build the kind of legacy we want to have.
I am asking the Lord for myself, for what He talks about in Isaiah, "
"The Lord has given me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens me morning by morning, He awakens my ear to listen as a disciple."
Do we sustain the weary with our words? Do I seek to be patient with a sleepy toddler, an awkward and frustrated teen, a weary and over-loaded husband, a depressed and discouraged friend? Are my words a fountain of hope and righteousness or death, discouragement and a piling of darkness.
In Matthew 12: 36-37 Jesus says, "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account of in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned." Scary thought! I tend to talk a lot and I do have a critical spirit, so I have a lot to repent of!
But, I have asked for forgiveness. I have asked God to teach me to be one who practices giving words of grace and life.
I have been finding that the more I seek to sow words of life, to take initiative to re ally tell people how much I love and appreciate them, to give words of life, that my own heart has grown in love and in peace and acceptance of them and of myself. It is as all the other areas in which I learn to obey God, that in my obedience, I eventually become blessed. How patient a Father He is! How wise are His ways in my life.
I will end my thoughts with words of life to Him, who is my most wonderful teacher. I love you my wonderful, patient, loving, grace-giving, servant Lord. You enrich my life with your love and training. You sustain me in my weariness with your words. You bless me by your gentleness and faithfulness. Know that I love you today with all of my heart. Bless those who read these words today with a well springing from their hearts with words of life and beauty and love. Let those who need words of love, receive them from you. Then, fill their homes with love, life, beauty and give them grace today to live in your grace.
grace and peace today.