Understanding the times and the season we live in can be found in the Bible excerpt “A Tree Known by its Fruit”: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that every idle word man speaks, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words, you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. — Matthew 12:33-37
The mouth speaks
Our words have great power, power for life and death. They can live on in an individual, a group or over a nation for years to come. South Africa is well known as a nation that fought a racial battle. Travel anywhere in the world and say you are from South Africa and people associate us as victors of freedom from apartheid
Looking back at the above verse in Mathew, Jesus teaches us that words transmit power. It’s a perfect example of words shaping our destiny. Words reveal our character as we speak, never mind prophesying in the name of the Lord over a person or a nation. You can hear what’s in the heart of a person by what comes out of their mouth.
Beautifully said in Proverbs 18:20-21 — “From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips, they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’
Imagine a people so filled with goodness and life that the abundance thereof is majestic fruit.
Today what we say is so swiftly and effortlessly shared on social media at the push of a button. The above passages give a glimpse right down into our eternal future. Imagine the day when all our words carelessly said, or spitefully crafted will be weighed in the courts of Heaven. Sobering.
As Christians we will be justified (saved) by our words. Confessing Jesus Christ as Lord wipes our slate clean of all our sins, though the consequences of wrongdoing may still have to be adjusted in our lives and our minds by being renewed with the Word of God.
Dealing with conflict
As Christians we are going to have to learn how to deal with conflict. There is no clearer passage in the Gospels on conflict resolution than Mathew 18. Jesus made the process of dealing with conflict clear. Conflict happens in ourselves, family, friends, church, in business and we all know in nations. It is the place where difference of opinion, difference of understanding and difference of agendas occur.
We have all lived with so much conflict in so many arenas over the past year and a bit and now we’re at the stage of learning how to manage the process. For some its, let’s just get on with life and leave the whole presidential or corruption thing behind us; for others its, it’s let’s understand that there is always going to be difference of opinion, betrayal and prophesy that doesn’t come to pass; for others the fight must go on till the bitter end, and then there’s some that say it’s got nothing to do with us and then there are others that wish they never got involved in anything controversial.
There has been a lot written or said about true and false prophesy, whether you have the authority to prophesy in a particular sphere or not, repenting, withdrawing prophesy and so much more.
A time to remember
Could it be that pain may be emerging from the mud-flinging of words and judgments against one another; the divisions and factions that have developed. As hard as it is, we may have to put down the gauntlet and get back to basics and realise its Jesus we are following not a party, nor a man, nor a woman nor an economic system, nor a prophet.
I remember once being involved in supporting a political party during an election. I spent weeks on end sending out press releases, messages and different social media around the world as we had lots of our fellow countrymen outside our borders for different reasons. Praying fervently, trusting that the “appointed man” was going to turn our country around. I pushed back the negativity and the onslaught of harsh words, always believing there would be a breakthrough.
Sad to say, we didn’t gain as many seats as we hoped. As I sat weighing up the defeat, it wasn’t the loss so much as the criticism from fellow Christians that pierced my heart.
At that time, I consoled myself that I knew I was called to speak into politics in some manner, but looking back I found I really learnt a few lessons:
Time to heal
It is said that “sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words never will hurt me”. But that is simply not true. “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” — Proverbs 12:18
If ever there is a time to look for the wise it’s when harsh words have been flung around and pierced like a sword. They really do leave scars on one’s soul. One may have an opinion, a conviction, a Scripture one believes is from the Lord, but it is the comfort of the wise and the Holy Spirit that’s essential after the war.
Those who will rebuild the Body, and who understand the effects of loss and trauma are so needed to get the nation back on its feet. It’s those who can help to rebuild the broken foundations and walls without bias and help to rebuild in love. The Word of the Lord is like balm on an open wound.
Satan has it as his mandate to engineer discord among the Body of Christ and between us and God at all costs. He is like a roaring lion seeking those who he can devour. As Christians we have entered the conflict zone by believing the Word of God which sets up a different set of premises to the way others think. This might not be overt conflict but none the less it raises the potential for conflict.
Bear in mind, some people say different things about virtually everything, just to be heard.
Many people are confused because they may not hold the same biblical standards. Many folk don’t want to enter the arena of life’s debates with full vigour. Some people, believe it or not,have selfish motives and twist the truth. Others don’t really know what’s going on but want to be part of the action. Some people can’t keep up with the fast-moving threads of ever-changing information and see where the Lord would be speaking into such an area.
Then there are some who were born for such a time as this and are God’s spokespeople.
Looking for wisdom I found this choice piece: Proverbs 15:1-7 — “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent. In the house of the righteous there is much treasure, but in the revenue of the wicked is trouble. The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the fool does not do so.“
It’s time to move on:
Perhaps being prepared for conflict is helpful, after all the opposition will come in different ways as we advance God’s Kingdom.
Twice this week my attention has been drawn to Isaiah 43.18 as it was shared either on Facebook or in a prayer meeting and I really believe it’s worth sharing here:
“Forget the former things.
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness.
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honour me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
Even our weather is getting our attention – the dams are full in many areas, and we are not on our knees crying for physical rain in many parts of South Africa. Thank you, Lord. It’s time to move on and ahead and steward the resources of the Holy Spirit well. Allow the banks of the river to be in place, let the catchment dams be effective and the Holy Spirit generate the power that is needed to turn the devastation of pain into gain.
Time to understand
I do believe the Lord is raising up men and women who will have the spirit of the sons of Issachar “who understood the times, to know what Israel ought to do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their command.” –-1 Chronicles 12:32