The Self-Absorbed Tongue (#21)

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4

Haman is our Biblical character example of someone completely preoccupied with themselves.  Remember Haman?  He was the Persian government official in the book of Esther who plotted and schemed and was eventually hung on the gallows he himself had built.  If you read through Esther you will see that “Haman boasted to [his friends and wife] about his vast wealth, his many sons, and all the ways the king had honored him and how he had elevated him above the other nobles and officials.” Esther 5:11

Throughout his whole life story, we never see him express an interest in anyone else.  He is completely preoccupied with himself.  (He also has some serious pride and boasting issues, but we addressed that on Day 7!)

I don’t think Haman would have been a good lunch date – he would have just talked on and on and on about himself.  Tedious. Boring.

Self-absorption is about wanting to be the center of attention.  It’s also a sign of some deep-seated heart issues – selfishness, insecurity, and wanting the approval of others.

Self-absorbed people present a relational challenge – others realize that their interaction with you is one-sided, there is no mutual sharing of needs or ideas.  As our author said, “Trying to have a close relationship with a self-absorbed person is like trying to hug a porcupine.”

Are most of your conversations with others centered on you and your issues?

“Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.  People will be lovers of themselves… having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.” 2 Timothy 3:1,5

Let’s make a conscious effort to become “others-absorbed”.

Pray that God to make you genuinely interested in other people.

When you walk away from a conversation with someone – ask yourself what percentage of the discussion was about you versus being about the other person.  We used to make a game of it during dinners at our home… Could we spend most of the night learning about the other couple?  Could we not get drawn into talking endlessly about ourselves?

My husband used to say that it was the mark of a mature pastor or a good friend – he didn’t need to talk about himself all the time.  Despite whatever accomplishments he may have, he never needed to find a reason to tell you about them.

Being genuinely interested in others is a sign of spiritual growth.  We are inherently selfish and self-absorbed and it takes work to overcome it.

Pray that God would show you how much you talk about yourself – and give you a desire to hear more about others.

Give people your full attention when they are talking.  Focus on them.

“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues

The Problem is Not Your Tongue

Donna said something wise yesterday – “As we continue on with taming the tongue, I keep getting the feeling that my tongue is not the real issue.  About 10 inches south is a heart that does not always beat for Him.  Pray for me as I’ll pray for you that our hearts will be tender to Him and our tongues will be the reflection of true devotion to the One who entrusted us with such a powerful tool.”

She’s right.  Matthew 12:34-35 says, How can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.  The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

Out of the overflow (abundance) of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Yikes!  Putting my hand across my mouth is only a little band-aid on the surface!  It hardly masks the deep infection that lies within my heart.

No wonder it feels hopeless sometimes.  I might succeed in keeping my mouth shut – briefly – but the real problem is in my heart.

“The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’  For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:18-19

So what in the world can we do about the condition of our hearts?

This study is not a bad start.  The author might have titled it 30 Things You Can Do Wrong With Your Tongue.  If we allow it, the study should be making us aware of how our words can be displeasing to God.  Knowing that we have a problem – a fairly serious problem – is a good start.

But it doesn’t solve the problem of the heart.  We must ask God to reveal to us what is going on in our hearts, what lies beneath the ugly words and habits?

And then we have to acknowledge the truth he shows us.  And repent, turn away from it.  Let go.  Let go of anger, bitterness, and resentment.  Let go of jealousy, envy, self-centeredness, and pride.  Let go of the need to feel accepted by everyone else, be smarter than everyone else, be funnier than everyone else.

He is faithful and will heal our hearts – if we ask Him to.

Our words will be transformed if we allow Him to renew the state of our minds and hearts.

Let’s allow Him to change us.  We need to.  We must.

One of the MOST scary verses in the Bible is the continuation of the passage quoted above.

“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36-37

Let’s get our hearts right, ladies.  Pray for me.  I’ll pray for you.  Love you!

And I’m skipping Day 12, The Betraying Tongue.  Betrayal is a heart issue anyway.

The Boasting Tongue (#7)

“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2

So easy to say, so hard to do.  When you’ve succeeded at something difficult, or accomplished something really significant – you just want to tell everyone.  I think there’s a time and place for celebrating, we just have to be careful with our words and our motives.  Boasting implies that your good fortune is a result of your own efforts.  Have you forgotten that everything you have has come from God?

“Who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

Remember King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4?  He exalted himself (my kingdom, my residence, I built, my splendor, etc.) and stole the glory that belonged to God.  And for that he got to wander as an insane man in the fields for several years… until he acknowledged God as master of the universe in all His glory.

Remember Gideon?  Do you remember why God only allowed him to take 300 men to battle?  It was so that Israel would recognize that God had delivered them and not claim the victory by their own might (Judges 7:2).

Why do you think man’s self-confidence and reliance on his own strength is so repulsive to God?  What do you do to battle pride, to keep it out of your own life?

“By the grace of God I am what I am.”  Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:10

By the way, in the back of the devotional book there’s a list of positive things you can do with your tongue (instead of just always trying to not be negative!).

Today – instead of boasting – applaud someone else’s achievement!

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues

Bragging on my kids again, or not?

I have the most awesome kids in the world!  The back of my suburban Mom car is covered with honor roll stickers.

On someone else’s car this week I saw a sticker that said, “Your kid may be a star student but you drive like an idiot”.  That really made me laugh.

Then I read the essay by Glennon Melton below and it got me thinking.

What am I bragging about my kids for?  What is that teaching them about what’s important in life?  Do they feel that their “success” is necessary for my love?  Am I only proud of them when they make straight A’s?  (Of course not, but do I communicate that?)  How can I value their CHARACTER more than their success?  How can I help them develop (and value) things like perseverance, empathy, compassion, and kindness?  How can I weed out pride and the pervasive trait of self-absorption while still encouraging them to do their very best?

Parents, read this – it’ll make you think.

How do we teach them that character is MUCH more important than their “success”?