According to my Internet research, the little adage about sticks and stones being more harmful than words first appeared in 1862. As you know, it ends, “Words will never harm me…” Not true. I have crashed bikes, fallen from trees, had three surgeries, hit my finger with a hammer, been whipped with a stick and pelted by stones but the pains that still remain in my heart are from words. I can still remember painful things that people said to me over 40 years ago. I’m not remembering them with bitterness, but there are still scars; some things are hard to forget. Words have power. Words can cheer, encourage, inspire and bless. Words can also depress, discourage, ruin and curse. The apostle James wrote that our words can be like a match that starts a forest on fire. We’ve all been involved, to one extent or another, in a forest fire of words, “set on fire by hell.” We’ve probably also been encouraged, refreshed and blessed by someone’s kind and thoughtful response in our time of need. Lord willing, this coming Sunday, we’ll learn about why Spirit-empowered word use is so important in private and in public. “Desire earnestly to prophesy…”
One doesn’t have to be a believer in Jesus to know the power of temptation. Every human that has walked this earth has been enticed to pursue something God has forbidden. To be human is to be tempted. Temptation is “common to man.” We may have different temptations. Some are tempted to steal, others, to eat too much or drink too much. Some people are tempted to hurt themselves while some are tempted to over-indulge in pleasure. Some are tempted to satisfy their sexual desires in ways that are not approved or designed by God for our wellness as humans. Some people are tempted to carry out their anger in hurtful ways. Some, who believe they have gained a mastery over their flesh, are tempted to pride-filled self-righteousness. Deception is the foundational reality in temptation. We must be aware that the world system (culture), the enemy (devil) and our own flesh (desires) are not trustworthy indicators of reality. The only accurate source of truth is the Word of God. The only pure Model of what life is about and how to live it is Jesus Christ. The only Power Source always available to us is the Holy Spirit. The only One whose gifts are good and perfect and come in due time are the Father’s. You have faced temptations today and you will face them tomorrow and will have to deal with them every day of this life to one degree or another. What will you do with this malady of the human condition? God has a plan. We’ll study it in preparation for the Lord’s Table this coming Sunday, Lord willing .