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Think before speaking

I find it interesting how personalities and circumstances collide at times.

Sometimes when a person is faced with difficult, challenging, hostile or simply depressing circumstances, the onlooker can see the person’s true personality, or can they?

Sometimes a normally docile person can become overly agitated or even aggressive when confronted or challenged. Some would say that this is how the person really is, and the docile person we see on a regular basis is a front. Then again, maybe they truly are a pacifist and in this one instance they were pushed too far. In any case, sometimes we have to express ourselves, and other times we need to refrain from expression, and at all times we have to keep our audience in mind.

I knew a counselor once who taught me to ask myself the following before responding: Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said right now? Does it need to be said by you? Does it need to be said in the way you want to say it?

The reason to have you reflect on the previous monologue is that I want you to think about your worship service (whatever time you have it). The minutes before when people are gathering and the moments after the last “amen.” Maybe even for some of you during the actual time of worship. How are you acting? What are you saying?

We are supposed to be about the business of worshipping God and modeling Christ in our lives for our own growth and as a witness to others. The bickering, gossiping, backbiting, grumpy Christian at a worship service does nothing but three things. First, they take away the focus of the worship, which is God. Second, the congregation, the visitors, the new Christian, are learning from that example. Third, they are wasting their worship time by focusing on themselves and their problems instead of focusing on God.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. — James 3:9-12

As I have to remind myself from time to time, I also encourage each of you, to think about your audience, think about your purpose, and think about your witness to others as you enter into, out of and during worship.

Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said right now? Do you need to be the one to say it? Do you have to say it that way?

REV. BARRY VASSAR is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist. He can be reached at fitzgeraldmemorial@gmail.com.