Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘verbal abuse’


The Works of John Newton (4 Volume Set) Newton, John cover imageI’m moving toward the end of The Works of John Newton. There are a few items in the 4th volume I want to address separately. The one that seems pertinent to me existentially is Thoughts on the Government of the Tongue.

We are in the midst of political polarization as a nation. As a denomination, we are in the midst of theological polarization. As I think about my own words they are not always what they should be. I also feel kicked around, misunderstood and attacked at other times. I’m beginning to make more use of the FB snooze function. However, I am not looking forward to 2020 because this election looks to be even more polarizing and spiteful than 2016 was.

Newton begins his thoughts this way:

There is perhaps no one test or proof of the reality of a work of grace upon the heart, more simple, clear, and infallible, than the general tenor of our language and conversations; …”

He is applying James 3 in light of Jesus’ words “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” James warns us of the danger of the tongue. It can burn down families, churches and nations. We can build up or tear down with our kids, spouses or friends.

The last year or so has been an exercise in holding my tongue. Some people may not believe it, but they didn’t hear all that is in my heart because I don’t want to damage relationship in my anger. James warns that the one who can’t bridle his tongue has vain religion.

“It is not the restraint of the heart, the apostle requires.”

While it is our duty to watch and mortify the sinful desires of our hearts. But “he supposes that the grace of God in a true believer will check the evils of the heart, and prevent them from breaking out by the tongue.” This means that a husband won’t light into his wife (or a wife her husband) when they disagree. This means that you don’t attack your neighbor who votes differently than you but perhaps seek to understand their perspective. We note the hatred and anger arising in our hearts and refuse to give vent to them.

Newton notes that restraining our tongues is not to be taken so strictly that we think a Christian never speaks unadvisedly. We see godly men like Job and Jeremiah cursing the day they were born. While godly people frequently restrain their tongues, James also notes that we all sin in many ways, including our speech. This is part of the sanctification process.

I don’t know if Trump is a genuine Christian. Taken strictly, one would be tempted to say “No way, Jose.” But if his reported conversion a few years is genuine, we should not be surprised if it takes time for a man who used speech sinfully in many ways to begin to restrain his tongue (and his tweets). If grace is in his heart, “it will so regulate and control the tongue, that it shall not customarily offend.” People need time to change, and it is frequently incremental. This should give most of us hope. We see change, but long for more (if we are honest).

But the counterfeit Christian cannot bridle his tongue because there is no grace in his heart. He may learn theology, help out around the church but the tongue will persist in gossip, slander, unwholesome speech and verbal assault.

Newton moves to what it means to bridle the tongue. One aspect is their language toward God.

“So likewise the hearts of believers teach their mouths to speak honorably of God under all their afflictions and crosses, acknowledging the wisdom and mercy of his dispensations; and if an impatient word escapes them, it grieves and humbles them…”

In affliction the sinful heart wants to curse God, blame God. The Spirit of grace works to restrain that sinful desire. When we do accuse or curse, the Spirit of grace convicts us so we are grieved.

It also restrains our prideful speech of ourselves. That tendency we have to assert we alone are right and good, and those who disagree with us are singularly evil, stupid or blind. We speak as though we have all the answers. Instead, the Spirit moves us to speak of ourselves as unworthy, needy creatures.

“In what they say of or to others, the tongues of believers are bridled by a heartfelt regard to truth, love and purity.”

Not just truth. Not just love. Our tongues are bridled by truth and love. And purity. Truth and love restrain our tongues so we don’t speak falsehood or hatefully. We begin to have an internal restrain, which is the key. That restraint is truth, love and purity. It isn’t fear.

Newton recognizes that we can unwittingly speak untruths. We can speak from ignorance, forgetfulness. We aren’t speaking to deceive. But we are wrong. Sometimes your opponent is just plain wrong, not lying. Keep that in mind as the election draws near.

The tongue is bridled by truth because God is the God of truth. Jesus is the truth. It is bridled by love because God is love. God is light, and in Him there is no darkness. As a result we are restrained by purity. We are holy because He is holy.

“… though true believers may, on some occasions, speak rashly, and have great cause for humiliation, watchfulness, and prayer, with respect to the government of their tongues…”

Yes, we have a goal and a motive but we have not arrived. This is cause for humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand. This is cause for watchfulness when in disagreement with another. This is cause for prayer that God will guard our mouths and tongues.

Newton provides us with some helpful, edifying thoughts and direction for governing our tongues as manifestation of grace. It is well worth heeding as we move into an election year, as we continue in denominational debate and engage in everyday conflict.

Read Full Post »


In June I’ll heading to a screening for Courageous.  It was produced by the makers of Facing the Giants and Fireproof.  I’d seen the former, but hadn’t the latter.  So, CavWife and I took a break between seasons of House to get it from Netflix.  After sitting around the house for a week since we had an unusually hectic schedule, we enjoyed an unusually quiet Sunday afternoon to watch it together.

Stepping up the Quality with Kirk

Overall, the Kendricks are getting better at making movies.  Alex only had a cameo as a pastor this time around instead of being the star.  That bill was filled by Kirk Cameron.  Don’t think this was a big budget affair however.  In the credits you can see that much of the catering was donated.  Watching the movie you’ll also be surprised to find that a firehouse of 5 guys is able to man 2 large trucks.  They do a surprisingly good job with the amount of money they have at their disposal.  While still following a formula, it was not as simplistic as Facing the Giants.  Nothing was resolved quite so easily and it didn’t create the false impression that if you come to Jesus everything works out just dandy in short order.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


In the past week speech and rhetoric has become a hot topic.  Like many people, I’ve been sitting and soaking it all in.  I don’t want to fall into the trap of the knee jerk reaction, as many have.

On the one hand, many have blamed the current political climate for the shootings in Tucson.  Thankfully, after 5 days of hearing this the President rightfully said such speech is not to blame for the actions of the shooter.  What is odd to me is that those making such charges were blind to their own use (or that of others sharing their political views) of such rhetoric.  Too many times I heard and seen “XXXXXX’s don’t talk like that.”  The internet is full of examples of people from both sides of the political spectrum talking just like that.  Our inner Pharisees were working overtime!

Sadly, the President, in calling for “healing speech” didn’t disavow his own documented use of such rhetoric.  Such would be the move of a great leader, acknowledging his own failings even as he calls all of us to a better, higher standard.

At the same time, the New York Jets seem to be living in a bubble.  Their coach is an inflammatory quote machine.  His arrogance, not to be confused with confidence, is astounding as he apparently has knowledge of what happens when other teams and their players prepare for a game.  He also, apparently, knows what people say behind closed doors.

But worse than his arrogance (which is pretty bad since God opposes the proud) is the verbal attacks of Antonio Cromartie.  He doesn’t have to like Tom Brady.  He doesn’t have to shower Brady with man love.  But his choice of words denies Brady’s dignity as made in the image of God, and is abusive.  It is the “rotten speech” of which Paul warned in Ephesians.  It is the same root from which all the political rhetoric has blossomed.

Here is where I see idolatry at work.  When your allegiance to a team doesn’t allow you to see their guilt in a matter, it is idolatrous.  When SpyGate erupted, I did not condone the actions of the Patriots.  But I put it in context as well, since this seemed to be a fairly common practice (sort like the steroid era).  The Patriots “only” got caught because then Jets’ coach Eric Mangini wanted a competitive edge.  He most likely engaged in that practice while a member of the Patriots’ coaching staff.  [The lack of impact on the game was revealed by the Patriots finishing that regular season undefeated.]

(more…)

Read Full Post »