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Oh, Be Careful Little Lips What You Say!
Kehilat (Ecclesiastes) 7:20-22
Kehilat (Ecclesiastes) 7:20-22--”Surely there is not a righteous man on Earth, who does good and doesn’t sin. Also don’t take heed to all words that are spoken, lest you hear your servant curse you; for often your own heart knows that you yourself have likewise cursed others.”
"Hello, my name is Shirley and ..."
“Hello, my name is Shirley and I am a person who, at times, sins, by calling down curses upon my fellow human beings, all of whom I have been commanded to love as much as I love myself. And, no, I cannot make the excuse that those same fellow human beings have, at times, likewise cursed me.”
Do you ever find yourself saying that which I have just said? We are human after all, and we do have an inherent desire to be selfish and sinful. And, yes, it does get us into trouble at times. More times than I care to admit anyway.
I think to start, we need to have a good working definition of the word “curse”. The use of this word in this context does not mean “to cast an evil spell on someone”; it means “to make light of”, “to make a trifle of”, “to bring into contempt”, “to make less of”, “to reduce in quality or value”, “to beat down”, or “to deprive of blessing”. And, in this Kehilat verse (7:20-22), Shelomoh melech (King Solomon) is advising us to take to heart all that is heard- what others say -and all that is said- by us. What we hear and/or say includes angry threats, defaming remarks, deliberate untruths (AKA lies), jokes at others’ expense, and unwarranted comments.
To my own shame, I have been guilty of just this thing within this last month, and I have had to eat crow and swallow my pride and ask for that person to forgive me. And, I’ll be honest, it’s hard to do. My excuse, when I was in the middle of angry comments, was that I was defending my faith. And, yes, we should defend our faith- Kepha-Aleph (1 Peter) 3:15 says, “But sanctify Adonai Eloheinu in your hearts; and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason concerning the hope that is in you, with humility and fear.” -but, no, I am not to do Elohim’s work for He needs no defense- Tehillim (Psalms) 7:11 says, “Elohim is a righteous judge, yes, Elohim Who has indignation every day.” Not to mention, that Kepha-Aleph 3:15 tells us to “answer everyone who asks … with humility and fear”. Yes, I should answer when I am questioned about my faith; but, not in anger or wearing my feelings on my sleeves, rather in humility and fear, meaning, gentle correction and an awe-struck wonder for Elohim. Mashali (Proverbs) 17:27-28 says, “He who spares his words has knowledge. He who is even tempered is a man of understanding. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is counted wise. When he shuts his lips, he is thought to be discerning.”
This is when I am speaking; but, you know what? Sometimes, when I make Michaela mad- I know; can you imagine I would ever make my sixteen-year-old daughter mad? -she will go in her room and start singing songs that talk of how angry she is with me, even singing about violence sometimes. How do I know this? Because like an idiot, and in direct opposition to the sage advice of Shelomoh melech, I stand at her door and listen. Why? Do I want to continue the argument with her? Do I want to catch her trying to say something bad about me? Why? Because then she will get in trouble for thinking such dishonoring things about me? And, why is this any different than when I speak in foolish pride to those I mean to share my faith with? (rhetorical question) It’s not.
Until we see the Day of our resurrection, we are imperfect human beings, not that we should wallow in this fact; but, it is a fact, nonetheless. No man is wise at all times. Foolish words and unwarranted snarky remarks will be made from time to time, regardless of who you are- pastors, evangelists, teachers, parents, children, et cetera -and we would do well to recognize it when it happens to us individually. No one should listen to everything that is said of him- or herself or others, nor should we speak a spoken word of trouble regarding anyone else. When brought to a point of provocation, self-restraint (e.g.-self-control) must be displayed in the way we take what is being said, ponder it and pray about it, then give a reply in “humility and fear” (Kehilat 7:22). A person with such self-control will not prompt punishment for something misspoken, whether intentional or not.
As corny as it sounds, there’s a phrase that has been sounding in my mind like a vinyl record with a scratch on it and so the same phrase plays over and over and over and over and … It’s because I read and see- and yes, sometimes speak -much negativity on social media and in so much of my goings out and comings in.
“Can’t we all just get along!?”
"Can't we all just get along?"
Baruch ata Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha’olam, asher yatzer et ha’adam b’khochmah, u’vara vo nekavim nekavim, chalulim chalulim. Galuy ve’yadua lifnei khisei khevodekha shem yipateiach echad meihem, ‘o yisateim echad meihem, ‘l efshar le’hitpaiyeim ve’la’amod lefaneyk’ha. Baruch ata Adonai, rofei khol basar u’mafli la’asot.
Blessed are You, Adonai Eloheinu, Master of the universe, Who formed mankind in wisdom, and created in him all manner of openings and cavities. It is manifest and known before the throne of Your glory that if any one of them ruptured or were blocked, it would be impossible to survive and stand before you. Blessed are You, Adonai, Who heals all flesh and is wonderful in His acts.