It was morning, and I had just started drying my hair and applying my makeup. This was standard “read my Bible” time for me, since my kids are usually still sleeping when I get a shower. I keep my Bible in the bathroom, and so it was a habit for me to open to the Psalms and start to read. Today I began to read from Psalm 12.
“Help, YHVH, for the godly are no more;
the faithful have vanished from among men” (Psalm 12:1).
I read this verse and thought, “Whew, Father, I really understand how the Psalmist felt!” The night before we had attended the 8th grade graduation at our local public middle school. After watching an evening of shocking, lewd behavior, I was starting to feel like teens were hopelessly in trouble, as well as their parents and our entire neighborhood. In fact, our country… our world…
“Everyone lies to his neighbor;
their flattering lips speak with deception.
May YHVH cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue
that says, ‘We will triumph with our tongues…'”
It has been a crazy year at our middle school. Daily my husband tells me about his 8th grade students. It has been a struggle to actually teach them history or good character. He spends more time dealing with rebellion than he does with lessons. Our prayer is that he can reach some of these teens and share the Savior with them, but many days we feel like Satan is winning.
“…we own our lips—who is our master?”
Sometimes we’ll lie in bed at night and discuss what is happening in families. While teenagers are responsible for their own behavior, we also feel that much of the fault lies with their parents. Maybe not just parents, though. Certainly, our entire society is at blame for the behavior of our children. We have forgotten God. We feel that we have the right to control our own decisions, our own destinies. We should have the freedom to make our own decisions. We are our own masters. And if the adults in our society feel this way, why should we be surprised when the children will not accept any authority other than themselves? It seems this attitude shows up first in teenagers’ speech, don’t you agree?
“And the words of YHVH are flawless,
like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.”
When I read this verse, however, my self-righteous attitude quickly melted. (The Father is so good to take His Word and apply it directly to my life!) The Holy Spirit brought to mind the verse that says, “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy'” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
He helped me remember the times that I have had flattering lips and a boastful tongue. He reminded me of the times that I thought I could cover my wrong with my tongue, by “modifying” the truth or “sweet talking” my way out of something. I could see that at home, I often feel that I “own my lips” and have the “right” to say anything I want to my husband and children, whether kind or selfish, bossy or just plain mean.
This Psalm taught me that as a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), my words need to stop being my own. Instead, God’s words should flow out of my lips. His words are flawless, refined and purified. I will be able to tell that I’m abiding in Christ when He is master of my tongue.
Yes, 8th graders need a Savior. But I need Him, too! I am unable to walk in purity in my own strength. Each day I must confess my sin to Him (1 John 1:9) and rely on His goodness to fill my life. Then I need to stop finger pointing at others.
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