Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday 2011: Gottcha!

Words have meanings and these meanings express ideas that carry real consequences By their words a teacher lost her job; a presidential hopeful his shot at the office, a community worker her job, and now the C.E.O. of NPR, her position. A hidden camera interview – a.k.a. gottcha journalism – toppled another prominent person. (See here.) For years secret taping has exposed people doing and saying foolish, mean, reprehensible things. The stupidity isn’t limited to a few. From a national candidate caught mocking people’s ethnicity, to employees showing clients how to skirt the law, to media elite demeaning political operatives, we see it isn’t just the kids who say the darndest things! And every single one of them might agree with Mary Ann Evans (George Elliot) who wrote “Blessed is the person who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.”

We’ve known about “bugs” and “moles” – but now no one has the luxury of saying what is really on their minds – for now we live in an age of open mikes to the world. Leaders – political, social, academic, scientific, and artists – can see their offhand or heartfelt comments go viral in the time it takes to watch a You-Tube clip, or Facebook post.

However we think about what was done and how, the expectation of being instantly and publically answerable for our words is daunting. I always wondered what God meant when He admonished me I would give an account of every careless word. A paraphrase describes the warning this way:
Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation. (Matthew 12:36-37 from THE MESSAGE)

Five years of technological advances suggests how He might keep such an account. If just the memory of a few of my “verbal lapses” embarrasses me – how much more would the irrefutable evidence of all my careless words convict me?

Today is a day of repentance on the church’s liturgical calendar; many Christians therefore submitted themselves to a mark of ashes which symbolize our repentance from our sins. (Job 42:6) But every day is the time to think about our words and repent from our folly. (Psalm 51, 139:23-24) Calling anyone a fool, for any reason, has a real consequence. (Matthew 5:22-24) Today is the best time to seek to restore the relationships we have harmed – starting with God, Himself.
No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter; God won't put up with the irreverent use of his name. (Exodus 20:7 from THE MESSAGE )

And then think about all the times we laughed off, or disregarded others’ objections to what we were saying, “just kidding!”

People who shrug off deliberate deceptions,
saying, "I didn't mean it, I was only joking,"
Are worse than careless campers
who walk away from smoldering campfires.
(Proverbs 26:18-19 from THE MESSAGE )

Words are powerful weapons – or tools. They can cost us relationships, jobs, and respect and peace with God.
The man of few words and settled mind is wise; therefore, even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. It pays him to keep his mouth shut. (Proverbs 17:27 The Living Bible)

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