I am always amazed how God teaches us profound lessons through ordinary every-day things we experience. Let me be transparent with you today.
Recently I took a new medication to alleviate pain I experienced as I tried to sleep. The medicine worked like a charm and I slept soundly and long without pain. I was thrilled because I was resting better than I had for many months. I continued taking the medication but noticed that my vision was becoming blurry and it was hard to focus. This was somewhat alarming to me. I thought to myself, “I’ve put off getting glasses for so long, but now it must be time to make an appointment with the eye doctor.”
I had recently gained a few extra pounds and noticed that my feet and ankles were a bit swollen with what seemed to be retained fluid. Once again, I thought it must just be my age, but it seemed unusually uncomfortable.
I couldn’t explain why these things suddenly happened and decided to investigate the side effects of my new medication. There it was – blurred vision, fluid retention especially in the feet and ankles, weight gain. The side effects of the medication were exactly what I had experienced. I immediately stopped taking the medication and within one day, my vision was back to normal and the fluid in my feet was gone. I had even lost a couple of pounds almost overnight. Those side effects had snuck up on me so gradually I barely noticed them until they affected me adversely.
I was relieved and thankful, but as I thought of what I had experienced, I realized that God was teaching me through it all. I began to ask myself, “What are the side effects of my actions, my attitudes, my words, even the tone of my speech?” Shortly after I began to consider this, my daughter, respectfully but clearly asked me to examine the tone of my words. I was unaware that the tone of my words spoken to others at times fit the description found in Psalm 52:2a “Your tongue cuts like a sharp razor.” God was clearly speaking to me.
This led to a time of self-examination and prayer. I realized that the tone of my words was colored by my attitude toward those to whom I spoke. I had allowed unfulfilled expectations and unforgiveness to grow a root of bitterness in my spirit and it spilled out in my words. God allowed the circumstances in my life to converge into a life transforming moment. I had been unaware of how I had been hurting those I love. It was as though the side effects of my words had gradually increased until they had become toxic.
In 1 Peter 5:8(NLT) we read, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” Think of it. A lion seeking its prey stealthily creeps up so that it isn’t noticed until it is too late for the prey to escape. Then it roars. All too often the side effects of our words and attitudes creep upon us and we don’t realize it until the damage has been done.
God gives us several warnings about not only our enemy, Satan, but our words, attitudes and actions. In the book of James and many other passages in God’s Word we are warned about the power of the tongue. Our words have side effects and when spoken cannot be taken back. I once heard a preacher suggest that before I speak, I must ask myself, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it confidential? Is it necessary?” As I follow this advice I find many things that come to mind need not be spoken. The side effects of my words can become life or death to those who hear them.
I found encouragement in Ephesians 4:31-32 “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Medications have both good and bad side effects. I pray that the bad side effects of my words will be replaced with good. As God continues to teach me, this is my prayer: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14(NLT)
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