A blog I read today by John Knox ( @watchmanjohn ) entitled The Choice Of Our Speech caused me to recall the importance of not merely guarding our lips but guarding our ears. Why? Because one of the ploys of the enemy is to take the words we hear and manipulate them so that they cause us to be offended, particularly when no offense was intended.
A few years ago an elderly woman I know, came up to me in tears apologizing for a grudge she had harbored against me for many years. All I can say is that she hid her feelings well. I never knew until she told me that I had deeply offended her and it was eating away at her to the point that she could not hide it any longer. She confessed to me that at the time of the offense, the Holy Spirit had immediately checked her and told her that she had misunderstood the situation and she needed to talk to me about it. She refused to listen and tried to act as if it didn't matter. The problem was, the grudge festered and kept resurfacing.
This woman was a dear precious saint who loved God with all of her heart. I want to make that clear because we need to understand that the enemy often seeks out little "chinks" in our armor and the moment we become aware of his invasion, we need to deal with it.
More than 10 years passed before she came to me about the incident. When she did, she broke down in tears and could hardly speak. Did I remember when... ?
I did. I remembered it very clearly. It was at the funeral of a boy we knew who had been killed in a terrible boating accident. He was the same age as my 10 year old son. It was an accident that should not have happened for it was due to a very foolish decision by a father in another boat who let his young, inexperienced child drive a speedboat on a busy holiday. The funeral was the largest funeral I had ever attended and even with two overflow rooms, it was standing room only.
My elderly friend, who did not drive, wished to go to the graveside service but the people who brought her were not going to go so she asked me if she could ride to the cemetery with me. I had to tell her no but I would secure a ride for her with someone else.
My friend only heard the word, "No." She did not hear my explanation. My car at the time, was in very bad shape. When my previous car unexpectedly "died", we were in a bad situation financially. We managed to pick up a car a mechanic friend of ours knew about that was mechanically sound but the body was pretty beat-up. Originally, it was only the back doors that did not open but by this time, the front passenger door did not work either. Understandably I was reluctant to have passengers in my car as they would have difficulty getting out of the car in an emergency situation. I had no choice but to have my son sitting next to me at times but he was small and I could easily grab him if necessary. An adult would be a different story. Regardless, I was driving a vehicle that was not safe and I wasn't going to take any passengers unless it was an emergency situation.
I explained this to my friend of course. The doors didn't work, my car wasn't safe but I would find her a ride but she didn't hear that. She only heard, "No." While I was busy securing her a ride (which I did), the enemy, gaining a foothold, made another suggestion. Not only did I not want to give her a ride, I did not want to give her a ride because she was a minority.
This woman had known me since I was six years old. I had been in her home countless times over the years and in fact regularly picked her up for church services. I loved her and she loved me. She knew this thought untrue as soon as it popped into her mind but "offense" had crept in and instead of kicking it out, she entertained it.
More than 10 years passed before she stood before me and wept. She cried even harder when she understood why I had responded the way I did. I cried too for I had not understood the terrible misunderstanding that had taken place. I had not known I had offended her and if I had, I could have explained the situation once again and cleared things up. My friend had suffered needlessly all of those years.
We have to place a guard over the words we hear lest the enemy twist and turn them in order to divide and destroy. He will use any excuse to cause division and hurt, even resorting to suggesting offense or injustice when there was none. He is, after all, the very father of lies.
May we not only see things as Christ sees them; may we also hear things as He hears them!