ODJ: Painful Words

January 25, 2017 

READ: Matthew 5:1-16 

God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth (v.5).

My daughter and I were savoring a school musical performance we’d just witnessed while walking to our car. Our happiness came to a screeching halt, however, as we watched a man approach a waiting vehicle and denigrate the driver for failing to pull forward far enough into the student loading zone. The diatribe was brief, but painful, particularly because it took place in the context of Christian community.

Individual rights and freedoms can be a blessing. We can’t underestimate, however, how a world indoctrinated with individualism, consumerism, and entitlement can skew our vision. Living in surrender to Jesus, the gospel calls us to humbly serve and love others as He did. Reminding us that the humble will “inherit the whole earth” (Matthew 5:5), Jesus challenges us to believe our greatest sense of fulfillment begins with the death of self. It’s a message that goes against our very nature.

The greater evidence of strength isn’t in our ability to demand what’s our perceived right, but rather in our ability to demonstrate mercy (v.7). Anger and frustration can be legitimate responses in certain situations, but they become a problem when we use them as an excuse to behave poorly toward others (Psalm 4:4; Proverbs 14:29). Our words matter, but what divides light from darkness is our choice to use them as agents of reconciliation (Matthew 5:16; James 1:26).

Proverbs 18:12 reminds us, “Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.” Serving a Savior who “took the humble position of a slave” (Philippians 2:7), let’s remember true power doesn’t come in what we demand of others, but in what we freely offer because of Him.

—Regina Franklin

365-day plan: Genesis 41:37-57

Read Ephesians 4:29 and think about what it means to use words that are “good and helpful.” 
Why are the words we speak to others so powerful? Why is it important for what we say to reflect God’s mercy and humility?