September 5, 2009

I Don't Mean To Be Ugly, But...

I have an awesome neighbor. I'm pretty sure he has every tool known to mankind - most of which I have no idea how to use. And he'll let you borrow any of them, anytime, for any reason. He's also been mowing our other neighbor's lawn for the last month as they've been overwhelmed with a family member battling cancer. And did I mention that he's at least 70. At least!

One thing I've noticed though, when I'm having conversations with him, is this one particular thing he likes to say. It typically precedes some sort of criticism or cheap shot aimed elsewhere. It goes something like this: "I don't mean to be ugly, but...." After I heard this a few times I started wondering, "But what?" It's become apparent to me that when I have to begin my next statement with a disclaimer, there's a chance I should probably just keep it to myself. If what I have to say is constructive, encouraging, beneficial to the ears (and hearts) of those who will hear it, it probably doesn't need verbal justification before it exits my mouth.

Proverbs 16:2 tells us that we "may be pure in our own eyes, but the Lord examines our motives." And in verse 13 Solomon goes on to tell us that the king "loves those who speak honestly". We can give all the disclaimers we want, but the reality is that the Lord is seeing through all our smokescreens! He knows our motive, our intent, and our heart. And He never desires for our words to become weapons. Not even subversive, tongue-in-cheek weapons.

As a Christ-follower I have this growing desire to know that my motives and my intent are pure - not just "in my own eyes", but as the Lord is examining my heart. I believe this will typically mean that if "I don't mean to be ugly", then I'll probably be better off just keeping my big pie-hole shut to begin with. Save the oxygen. Examine the motive. Think before speaking! It's a novel idea, I know. And thankfully, there's a much better alternative:

"A person's words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook." Proverbs 18:4

1 comment:

Keith said...

I don't mean to be a pain in the butt... but... ;)

Good thoughts Brian. Maybe your neighbor reads your blog and will get the point?