Motor Mouths and Idle Chatter

 

ConfidentialWhen I purchased a new computer several years ago, Best Buy packaged it with a copy of a virus protection program called Kaspersky.  I liked the program and would have renewed my subscription except for the fact that it was a Russian company.

I was a bit puzzled by my reluctance to re-subscribe and wondered if it was due to living through the Cold War era. It just didn’t make sense to purchase a virus and spyware program from a country noted for its spying and corruption.

Kaspersky is making news again this week, and guess why—it’s for spying.  The company has developed a program that allows a government or an employer to eavesdrop on your mobile calls. InfoWatch, a subsidiary of Kaspersky, is using technology originally developed for the Soviet KGB, and, they’re trying to market it to businesses and government agencies around the world.

The Russian software company isn’t the only one who has been listening to confidential conversations.  God has been doing it for quite some time, and Jesus issued a warning to motor mouths and their idle chatter: I say to you that for every idle (careless or irreverent) word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).

In his classic work, Matthew Henry offers an interesting commentary on the words of Jesus: The heart is the fountain, words are the streams. A troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring, must send forth muddy and unpleasant streams. Nothing but the salt of grace, cast into the spring, will heal the waters, season the speech, and purify the corrupt communication. An evil man has an evil treasure in his heart, and out of it brings forth evil things. Lusts and corruptions, dwelling and reigning in the heart, are an evil treasure, out of which the sinner brings forth bad words and actions, to dishonour God, and hurt others. Let us keep constant watch over ourselves, that we may speak words agreeable to the Christian character.

Which is more unsettling to you: the eavesdropping of Big Brother Kaspersky, or the thought that God hears every word you say?  As you think about this, I’ll leave you with two other statements for your consideration:

  • 2 Timothy 2:16: Avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness.
  • Proverbs 14:13: Idle chatter leads only to poverty.

Decisions: 4 Questions To Ask

a-checklist-for-better-decision-makingUnrest, stress, and turmoil are the frequent companions of decisions.  As you wrestle with making a choice, the uncertainty can flood you with anxiety; and, once the decision is made, you can grow nervous as you contemplate the potential consequences.

Deciding what is right or wrong, and what is the best course of action can be perplexing.  Even the Apostle Paul prayed that the Philippians would “abound in knowledge and every kind of insight,” so they could decide “what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).”

The next time you need to make an important decision, here’s a checklist of 4 insightful questions to help steer you in the right direction:

  • Helpful or Harmful: Will the results of my decision be a benefit to me and others or a detriment?
  • Embarrassment Factor: If the consequences of my decision became front page news and trended on social media, would my parents be embarrassed?
  • Here and Now or There and Then: Are you basing your decision on the intense but temporary pain of the here and now, or are you considering the long-term consequences of the future (there and then)?
  • Consistent: Will the results of this decision be consistent with Biblical principles?

I suggest that you look at the checklist again. As you read it a second time, think about the long-lasting power of your decisions that are seen in your words and deeds: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Colossians 3:17).”

The Picture of Health?

When a seemingly well person suddenly dies, acquaintances can be caught off guard and surprised.  The often-heard comment of, I thought he was the picture of health, can be  fallacious due to its external focus.

From the outside looking in, the individual had the appearance of looking healthy, great, and wonderful.  Below the surface, however, a parasite or virus had taken its deadly toll.  This scenario can be true of both an individual and an organization.

Take the recent case of J.P. Morgan.  While this investment bank has been considered to be the best of breed, this morning it reported losses of $4.4 billion in the second quarter of 2012.   When CEO Jamie Dimon learned of the lax and risky trading practices, he took steps to rectify the problem.  Individuals were dismissed and part of an investment office was reorganized.

Even though the reporting of these losses came as a surprise to the banking industry and the investment community, the problem had been festering below the surface for quite some time.

Incidents such as this remind me of the words of Jesus:  How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You clean the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are full of greed and uncontrolled desires.  You blind Pharisees! First clean the inside of the cups and dishes so that the outside may also be clean (Mt 23:25-26).

When people are like the Pharisees, and they are satisfied with just appearing to be ethical and moral, there is a problem.  When we neglect to care for what’s inside of our cup, eventually a nasty and very obvious boil will make its appearance.

To lift our cup to enjoy the sweet taste of victory, we need to heed the words of Paul:  Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize (I Cor. 9:24-27).