“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16:25 NIV).
Did you know someone is watching you? Did you know someone is listening to you?
Mary, Gwen and I were speaking at a Girlfriends in God conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The night before the event, we sat at a table in the hotel lobby, visiting with a mutual ministry friend. It was getting rather late, but we were enjoying being together and just didn’t want to go to bed. After about an hour of chatting, three ladies from the church ministry team came into the lobby with beautiful gift bags in their hands.
“What are you doing here?” we asked.
“We have been watching you through the window and waiting for you to go to bed!” one of the gals exasperatingly announced. “But you just keep sitting here talking! (Surprise, surprise) The plan was for the three of you to go to bed, and then we were going to place gift bags by your doors, knock and run away. (I know. How sweet.) But you just won’t go to bed! So here we are. Here are your goodie bags.”
After we gave hugs and kisses, and went to our separate rooms, I was struck with this truth. When we thought we were “off-line” so to speak, not in the public eye, not in the act of ministry…we really were. They were watching us through the window…
Girlfriend, there is never a time when we are “off-line.” There is never a time when our actions and our words do not matter.
Acts 16 has a wonderful story about Paul and Silas. They were arrested, beaten and thrown in prison for preaching the gospel. The Message says they were beaten within an inch of their lives. The Scripture also tells us that their feet were placed in stocks…a form of restraint reserved for dangerous criminals. So what did they do? Complain? Grumble? Question God? No. They prayed. They sang.
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16:25 NIV). It is amazing that they were singing and praying, but don’t miss the last part of that sentence… “the other prisoners were listening to them.” Underline that in your Bible. Ponder it. Remember it. “The other prisoners were listening to them.”
Someone is always watching. Someone is always listening. What will they see in our actions? What will they hear in our words? Will they hear coarse talk? Will they hear gracious words?
Later Paul wrote: “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving,” (Ephesians 5:3-5 NIV). Another translation says it this way: “…and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks,” (NASB).
I read this poem years ago, and it has served as a wonderful reminder about my actions and words.
You are writing a gospel, a chapter each day;
By things that you do; By things you say.
Others read that gospel, whether faithless or true!
Say! What is the Gospel According To You?
Someone’s watching. Someone’s listening. Say! What is the Gospel according to you?
Lord, I pray that You will “set a guard over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips,” (Psalm 141:3). “Let no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen,” (Ephesians 4:29). I pray that my words will represent You well today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Why do you think Paul includes so many verses in his letters to the churches warning them about the dangers of unwholesome talk?
What do you think happens in a “seeker’s” mind when she or he hears a Christian swear or tell a coarse joke?
We live in a culture where coarse words are inescapable. They are on TV, in movies, and everywhere you turn. You don’t even have to be watching a bad television program to hear them. The words fill the commercials. I know it is tough not to fall into the world’s parade. But God calls us to march to a different drummer…and Jesus is leading the band.
Here’s something to ponder: Sometimes what makes you stand out as a Christian is not what you say, but what you don’t say. If you prayed the prayer for today, let me know. Leave a comment and say, “I asked God to watch over the door of my lips today.”
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe. They can change the course of a life for good or for bad! If you would like to learn more about how to control your tongue and use your words to speak life into those around you, then see my book, It also has an accompanying Bible Study Guide and a teaching DVD. Perfect for group studies. The solution to many of your problems might just be right under your nose!