“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 (NLT)
I, like so many, love music and there are few things that rival seeing my favorite artists perform live. I do not know exactly how many concerts I have attended in my life. But, I do know that one thing has always fascinated me at concerts. It’s not the musicianship, stage setup, band or costumes. I do love all those things, but the one aspect of concert going that never fails to intrigue as well as baffle me is this: the security guards. You know the ones that stand with their backs to the stage; facing out towards the crowd? It amazes me that these individuals are able to guard their post, keep their focus and not lose their attention while the best and most talented musicians are performing. I could not do it. As soon as I heard, “do do do do doooo ummm, do do do do doo ooo…as around the sun the earth knows she’s revolving…” I would straight lose my job! I would have to turn around and sing along. Being on guard would be the farthest thing from my mind.
Unfortunately, this is true for many of us. Not when it comes to keeping watch at a concert, but more importantly when it comes to guarding our thoughts and words. We do not adequately guard our thinking, and it is having a grave impact upon our words and actions. Last week, I asked you to take the time to figure out what you are saying; to determine the soundtrack of your life. If you did so, chances are that you heard yourself anew. Now what? If you have determined that you are speaking death instead of life or that your tongue is running or ruining your life; how can you fix it? How can you write a new soundtrack to your life?
One answer is simply this: Be on guard. To guard means to be careful about what comes in and what goes out. This actually may not be that simple, but it is necessary. We have to learn to better guard our thoughts because they determine our words and impact the course and direction of our lives. In fact, the writer of Proverbs probably said it best: “Guard your heart more than anything else, because the source of your life flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (GW) It is critical for us to remember that what we say and do starts in our minds. Thus, we must set a guard over our heart by monitoring what goes in and out of our minds. For the next seven days, let’s be on guard and keep watch over these four areas:
What we listen to: We become who we are by repetition. It is true that the more you hear something the greater the impact that whatever is heard has upon your life. Consider both the quantity and quality of what you hear each day. Are you listening to things and people who are pulling you towards or away from Christ? Paul said in Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.” (NLT) We should be listening to the gospel of Christ (in various forms – songs, sermons, scripture, testimonies, etc.) more than we listen to anyone or anything else. Listening leads to speaking.
What we laugh at: Laughter is universal. Through laughter friendships are formed, conflicts can be resolved and healing can begin. Given the great power that laughter can have in our lives, we would do well to make sure that what we find funny is pleasing to God. I am not trying to be super-spiritual here, but some of us are laughing ourselves all the way to hell. Laughter, ridicule, sarcasm and jest are subtle tools used by the devil to make that which is very serious to God, a joke to God’s people. Some things just aren’t funny. The ways of God, the Word of God, the standards of Jesus Christ and principles of faith need our attention and obedience; not our giggles. Be careful.
What we long for: One way that unhealthy words and actions infiltrate our lives is through our desires. What we long for tends to take up our time and attention. We must guard against having longings for things and people that are ungodly, unholy and simply unhelpful to us living God honoring lives. We can choose what we like and we can decide that we do not want certain stuff, especially if it pulls us away from God. “Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.” Ecclesiastes 7:3 (NLT) Stay woke.
Where our eyes linger: The things that continuously pass before our eyes each day have a good chance of ending up in our hearts. Our world is becoming more and more visually appealing, which means that we have to work harder to stay alert and be on guard about what we are taking in through our eyes. All that glitters is not gold. Everything (and everyone) that looks good, is not good for you. Let us be better at turning away and not lingering in certain places. We have to align our standards with God’s standards. Some things are simply not worthy of our time, energy and attention. Instead of looking too long at things which we know are damaging our hearts and minds, let us pray, Lord: “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.” Psalm 119:37 (NLT) God is sure to answer that prayer.
Please pray specifically this week that we will all be more alert to recognize and resist the tricks, traps and enticements of the enemy. We cannot do this alone. We need the Holy Spirit to help us to see, hear, and understand better. The good news is that God is well able and very much willing to stand with us and help us live a life of faith, honor and wisdom. Be on guard.
This is the second blog in our month-long series about the power of the tongue. If you missed the first post entitled, “What Are You Saying?!?” read it here: http://www.joy4lifeministries.org/what-are-you-saying