Don’t be harsh! Go with grace!
‘Time in the Word’ By Clayton Adams
The word harsh is defined as: “Unpleasant to the senses, especially to the sense of hearing.” If one is harsh towards another, he or she is being rigorous and unsparing.
Grace, on the other hand, is “Favor given by one who needs not to do so.” If one gives grace to another, he or she is being Christ-like.
Our culture has become an extremely cruel and bitter society. We are critical, myopic, hypocritical and harsh towards each other without a full understanding of the life and troubles one has come through. However, we can change from being harsh and unmerciful and move to kindness and grace by responding with the wisdom of God’s Word.
Whether you are on the receiving end of being criticized unjustly or a participant, follow biblical guidelines in your responses.
“A soft answer turns away anger” (Proverbs 15:1).
You have the power to turn a negative conversation to a positive conversation.
If you have a problem with being harsh towards others, perhaps you need to control your tongue as suggested this way, “Let no corrupt communication come from your mouth but that which is good to the use of building up that it may minister grace to its hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). This is the first verse I memorized. I think it has helped me to not say things I wanted to say but shouldn’t.
Have you heard the old saying, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt?” The Bible tells us “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11).
Often, the best we can do is shut up.
People tell me “I just say what is on my mind.” I understand this urge but the problem comes when the one doesn’t stop and think before one speaks. We read, “… let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20).
How many friendships have been forever destroyed with sharp, biting and harsh words? How many marriages split because of a lack of grace and compassion from one to the other? The wound(s) almost every adult carries from careless words spoken to them as children and as young adults – what destruction our mouths can accomplish!
James said it this way; “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by humans.
But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God” (James 3:5-9).
The words we speak have meaning and more importantly they have consequences. As James points out, how can one bless the Lord and then curse someone? How wrong this is!
Do you swear and cuss and say you are a Christian? If so, ask God to change your speech because as James states this double minded tongue shouldn’t be.
What is in your heart? Perhaps its unresolved issues from your past manifesting itself in your heart then from your mouth. After all, Jesus said to the religious leaders and hypocrites, “From the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Matthew 12:34).
Is jealousy your demon?
Someone else does well at work and is recognized and under your breath you criticize and belittle their accomplishment? Can you truly be happy and excited over someone else’s success? To rid yourself of jealousy, give thanks to God for that one!
Has someone done you harm and has seemingly gone unpunished? God’s Word states; “Never take revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Romans 12:19).
Revenge is never the right path for Christians to walk.
Never seek revenge on your own.
Perhaps you are frustrated with your own shortcomings and are overly critical of yourself. This is a real spiritual battle but I point you to what the apostle Paul wrote; “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
Often, we are our own harshest critics but remember God created and gifted you with everything you need to accomplish His purposes in your life. Don’t dwell on your shortcomings build on your strengths – God gave you strengths to use for Him.
Lastly, are you critical of others because of their wrongdoing? Remember your own sin and this; “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We each are sinners, but as God said to Cain, “sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7). It’s the same for each of us. The other person struggles the same as you. Being critical of others because of their faults gives others an open invitation to be critical of you. Stop criticizing others! Remember, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).
Are you speaking death or life to others? Are your thoughts and speech harsh or full of grace?
Clayton Adams has a message of faith he would like to share with the community. He would also like to hear from you. E-mail him at claytonpadamslll@ gmail.com.