If there is one thing that makes me extremely uncomfortable- it’s people who vent and make negative comments in a public setting. I have a neighbor who says negative things to me all the time. Every time I am gardening or working in my yard he will come out and tell me that I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m wasting my time, or that my yard looks like crap. I see the same type of comments on Facebook all the time. People never fail to have something to complain about. I get so tired of reading vulgar, negative venting sessions on a daily basis. This stuff happens in church circles too. I’ve been in situations, on multiple occasions when someone who is supposed to be a christian leader, voices his or her negative opinion about someone or something. I get so uncomfortable at times that it makes me sick to my stomach. I get this picture in my mind of the person’s words being poisonous venom, spewing out and infecting everyone around them. I have been so overwhelmed by it before that I’ve had to hold on to my chair just to stop myself from running out of the room.
A couple weeks ago I was playing tennis with my husband on our day off. We are both very competitive and I was playing a pretty good game. I was returning just about everything, except when it bounced just over the net. Neither of us enjoys losing, so whenever I stood toward the back of the court, my husband would slice it just over the net, making it impossible for me to return. The more he kept doing this, the more heated I became. Every time I failed to return a rally, I would say something inappropriate under my breath. I knew that if my husband heard the things that were coming out of my mouth he would be appalled, so I kept my voice low so that he wouldn’t hear me. I found myself getting very angry with him, and in my frustration I swung and hit the net with my racket. My sour mood and bad attitude had ruined a time that was supposed to be fun for both of us.
Then the other day it was warm and sunny, so I decided to go for my scheduled run outside. About two miles into my run, I crossed a smiling woman, who was carrying a Bible and wearing an old-fashioned ankle-length skirt. As I passed by her, I had the urge to make a negative comment to her about being involved in a church close by that I have heard many people call a “religious cult.” I couldn’t believe how close I had come to making that comment, and then I remembered that ugly tennis match two weeks before. After thinking about it for a while, it suddenly dawned on me that I am just like the people who make me uncomfortable. I might have enough self-control that prevents me from publicly venting my frustrations, but I still have those same bitter and negative thoughts waiting to spew out of me. I didn’t like this side of me that I was beginning to see more clearly.
As I continued running, I couldn’t stop thinking about this new revelation I had. I started thinking about the verse in Matthew 12 that says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This sin (poison) was in my heart and coming out. It didn’t matter how much I suppressed it. It was always there, waiting to infect other people. I just needed to be tired enough or put under enough pressure for my guard to be down. All along I was deceiving myself by believing I had it together because I wasn’t one of those people who publicly spoke or typed out their negative thoughts.
By the time I reached my fourth mile, I was praying and repenting for the sin that was in my heart. I asked God to take away my sin and replace it with His Spirit. I no longer wanted to be a poison, but a light in dark places, a refreshing drink for those who are thirsty, etc…
Gal 5:25-26 says; “Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse…”
What really convicts me about this scripture is where it says, “every detail of our lives.” We’re supposed to allow the Spirit to work out every flaw in our lives, even the ones that others don’t see. This sin I’ve been dealing with is a trap that many of us get ourselves into. It’s a religious spirit and it’s dangerous. We think we are holy because we do all the right Christian things and we have our act together on the outside. Holiness is not what we do, but what is in our hearts. This issue will not go away overnight, but when we choose to repent and live every day, being filled with the Spirit, we will have victory.