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Thank you to Kaplifestyle for sharing this blog with us from a fellow MiLB Sis, Maddie Ledbetter.
Baseball season is in full swing, and that means lots of sitting at games with new friends: baseball girlfriends, fiancés and wives. As we chat and get to know each other, I’ve been meditating on and challenged by one theme: There is a strong and important connection between my thoughts and words. God has been graciously teaching me a few things on this subject. I must admit that I am in absolutely no way an expert on these things. I still struggle with my thoughts and words and figured others do as well.
1) I must constantly be on guard against negative thoughts towards others.
Often times, negative thoughts and words towards others come from places of bitterness, anger, envy, frustration, and pain in our own hearts. Satan uses our situations in life to fuel negative emotions. We might be going through something hard, and when our hearts are overcome by negative emotions over our situation, those emotions manifest themselves. They show up in the form in unkind thoughts and words about other people – even people we really love.
We must be on guard against these thoughts and recognize them for what they are: Satan’s attempts to wreak havoc in our lives. He uses our negative thoughts and words to weasel his way into relationships and drive wedges between loved ones and friends. Our thoughts and words can either build others up or tear them down. They play an essential role in the way we live, and they have powerful effects when others hear them. They matter! When we think and speak negatively about others, we are poisoning our OWN hearts and leaving room for bitterness to take root.
2) The words I speak “in private” mirror the state of my heart.
Jesus tells us in Luke 6:45 that, “from an abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” This means the thoughts we have and words we speak about others are clear indications of our heart toward them. Sometimes we select the people we are closest with to gossip about others. It might be your best friend or your spouse. It might be your mom or dad. Even when speaking to someone we completely trust, we should seek for our words about others to be uplifting.
These are the words that say a lot about who we are as a person. Yes, it is healthy to have an outlet for our thoughts and feelings, but this outlet should be a positive one that encourages us to take steps towards forgiveness and reconciliation. If we find ourselves making cutting comments that put others down, we should evaluate what’s at the root of our unkind words. Many times, it’s the man in the mirror.
3) When I have an issue with someone, I need to talk TO that person rather than about that person.
When we have negative thoughts regarding someone or something, many times the last thing we think of doing is talking to the offending party about it. Our first reaction is usually to either talk to someone else about it or bottle it up. Realistically, if a person is consistently doing something that bothers or offends you, he probably doesn’t realize he is doing so, and his actions probably won’t change until you talk to him about it.
If we really love another person, we will talk to him about something that’s bothering us because we care about him and our relationship with him. There’s no better feeling than having a friend that you know will talk to you first when something is not right between the two of you rather than resorting to gossip.
4) Some people are going to say and do things very differently from the way I think they should be done, and that’s great!
It’s easy to have critical thoughts toward others when they respond to something a different way than we would. In our pride, we tend to think we are doing things right, and everyone else is doing it wrong. But God does not tell us to criticize or judge others who think and act differently than how we think they should; He calls us to LOVE them in spite of our differences and even because of our differences.
It is so good that God created people with unique personalities and spirits! Life would be boring and, quite frankly, obnoxious if everyone thought the exact same way that I do. Rather than getting annoyed by people who are different than us and attempting to change them, maybe we make it our mission to know them further and understand them more. That is love – not simply enduring difference, but embracing and investing.
5) The Word will transform my thoughts and words.
As a Christian, studying the Bible is like putting gas in the tank of your car. If we have any intention of going somewhere (being transformed), it’s vital. This doesn’t mean skimming Scripture when we are half asleep or quickly reading a verse between our daily tasks. When we do this, it’s all too easy to let what we read go in one ear and out the other. Meditating on the Word, chewing on God’s principles and adopting them as our own – this is how the Holy Spirit works in our hearts to transform the way we think and act.
If we don’t have an active interest when we study the Bible and set aside time to soak up God’s teaching, we are leaving room for thoughts from Satan to creep in. He loves to plant negative thoughts in our mind, especially when our guard is down. We’ve got to invest time in our spiritual health in order to set ourselves up to receive the full benefits and transformative power of God’s Word in our lives.
Colossians 4:6 says,
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”
Ultimately, as a follower of Christ, my thoughts and words should ooze with God’s grace. In a world where gossip and cutting down others is easy, our words can truly set us apart and point others to Jesus. Like I said, I am a work in progress when it comes to gracious speech. Most people are. But let’s strive to be better. Regardless of the way people act and live, we have the choice to love them, think the best of them and choose to speak kind words about them.
“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” – Frank Outlaw
This post originally appeared on SBS Baseball.