Volume. XXXII, No. 1
Sunday, 02 July 2017

Spiritual Disciplines Part Seven

This Spiritual discipline is quite simply the control of the tongue. Simple, but not an easy task. It is to cultivate the habit of thinking before we speak, listening more than we talk, reining in our tongue from speaking our minds when silence would serve the occasion better.

i)    Why would we want to practice it?
When we think about what God says about the tongue, we immediately think about James 3:1-12. “The tongue can no man tame.” If that’s true, why are we practicing something that is a lost cause. We cannot hope to tame the tongue but we can at least put a leash on it. When we hold our tongue we afford ourselves time to think and that’s exactly what is taught to us in Prov. 10:19. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
James 1:19 also teaches us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Psalm 12:2-4 also shows us those who speaks too much end up having their tongue lording over them.
There is a saying that words are like dollar bills: the more of them we put into circulation, the more the currency is devalued. Words of the reticent are more valuable because they are rare, they are more likely to be as described in Prov. 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver”.
In place of speaking, Prov. 19:27 teaches us to keep listening. Jesus in Matt 11:15 says, “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear”. Listening is more important than speaking, which is why God gave us two ears and only one mouth.
Exercising reticence teaches us patience and humility, it also strengthens our self-control that helps us in our race for God. Though it may not draw us closer to God in a direct way, this discipline helps to shape us into an image that is more Christ-like.

ii)    What does it look like in practice?
The discipline of reticence does not mean we give up speaking totally. Similar to the discipline of abstinence, where we could fast for a day or a single meal, we may remain totally silent for a day or for an hour. Just as we may fast by gradually cutting back on food every meal, we may practice reticence by saying less and listening more each time we are in a conversation.

iii)    What are some indicators that we might need this discipline?
•    People may say we talk too much.
•    We often wish we could take back what had been said.
•    We tend to say whatever is on our mind and think about it later (if at all).
•    We often interrupt others mid-sentence.
•    Inclination to gossip.
•    Cannot keep a secret.
•    When you’re supposed to be listening, you’re planning what to say next.

iv)    How might we start?
•    In a social setting, try to listen without speaking for 15 minutes or even 30 minutes. (We may want to alert our companions about what we are doing beforehand so that they do not think something is amiss with us, since we are not acting normally).
•    Do something to remind ourselves to keep quiet and listen, like putting fingers over the mouth or even chewing gum.
•    When we are tempted to blurt out something, count to five slowly to give ourselves some time to think.
•    Every time we regret saying something, apologise immediately and remember that embarrassment when we are tempted to speak rashly again.
•    Have a ‘silent retreat’, spending a day or a few hours alone without saying a word aloud and devote that time to prayer, study and meditation.

We might call this the discipline of staying put. It is a willingness to work with the situation that God has placed us in rather than to run away to another where we think we might be better off. It is a refusal to run from our problems.
Sometimes called the discipline of submission, we submit ourselves to God and the situation that He has placed us in.

i)    Why would we want to practice it?
We seem to be in a mad rush to move around, running after a better job or a better house and neighbourhood. We’re always hoping to find something better around the next corner. Yet this incessant quest for more or better doesn’t end. More is not enough, better is not the best. We are never satisfied with what we have and peace eludes us because we are always looking for more. If we are not contented where we are, we will not be contented anywhere else since we take our problems with us.
Sometimes, rather than running towards this illusive happiness, we could be running away from problems, past relationships or the consequences of some bad choices that we have made. The high divorce rate in our society could be interpreted as a symptom of our society lacking the discipline of stability and the fortitude to “stay the course,” as it should be displayed in a marriage.
This discipline forces us to come face-to-face with our weaknesses and limitations. It allows us to recognize them and to grow to trust in God to provide a way out of our predicament or the strength to overcome our difficulties.
Our Lord’s prayer in the garden of Gethsemane teaches us this submission. Luke 22:42, “nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Even though He knew that staying the course would be hard, painful and agonizing, He stayed true to the Father’s will, knowing that good would come out of this painful experience. We too have this knowledge that whatever happens to us here on earth, we will have eternal peace with God. So, armed with this knowledge and the hope of eternity, we can also be like Jesus and stay the course, no matter how difficult.
ii)    What does it look like in practice?
Stability comes into play whenever we are tempted to change jobs, locations, churches or relationships in search of the perfect situation that we can never seem to find or to escape from a situation that we have created. It does not mean that we should never make such a change but, if we find ourselves always chasing or fleeing, we may need to be truthful to ourselves and recognize our behavior is a sign of misguided ambition or irresponsibility.
When that happens, it is time to ask God for the strength to stay put, in a particular job, home, city, suburb, relationship or even church. In so doing, we may learn contentment with what we have or accountability for our actions/choices.

iii)    What are some indicators that we might need this discipline?
•    We are perpetually discontented and sense that if we just made one more move, we would be happy.
•    We have a long history of relocation, jobs, churches and relationships.
•    We have a hard time working through problems and tend to run away from them instead of solving them.

iv)    How might we start?
•    This discipline requires us to be completely honest with ourselves. For a season, stop searching for the perfect situation and stay put. Whenever discontentment comes, use our prayer and meditation time to reflect on the reasons why.
•    Find a Spiritual Director (a more mature Christian) who can help us examine our hearts and personal history to identify the reason for our discontentment and plan a strategy to change, with God’s grace.
•    Use our meditation and prayer time to reflect on our ambitions, goals and desires, asking God for wisdom to discern what is unrealistic or contrary to His will.
•    Each time an opportunity arises for a major life change, refrain from making a decision until we had committed some time to pray, meditate and reflect on God’s will for us.

Dn Kevin Low

More Lively Hope



Winter break – There will be no Adult Sunday School, AFG, Ladies’ Fellowship, Mandarin Bible Study, Neighbourhood Bible Study & Wed Bible Study in July.
Ministry, Fellowship & Committee Reports for ACM to be sent to Elder Colin Gan by 16 July.
Candidates for Baptism, Re-Affirmation of Faith & Membership Transfer: Please submit testimonies to Pastor Ki by today.
Adult & Junior RPG for Jul-Sep available. Donations $1 per booklet.
Kitchen Duty helpers - This week: Team A. Next week: Team B.

Looking Ahead
Hymn Hour, Sun, 9 July, 2pm.
Annual Congregation Meeting, Sat, 5 Aug.
Baptism, Re-Affirmation & Membership Transfer, Sun, 6 Aug.
Holiday Bible Club, 9-13 Oct.

Prayer Items
Healing: Bro Yick Ho Lam’s father (cancer); Mr Balan Sanders (home); Sisters Peng Moi Gan (Sis Peng Ha Yeo’s sister), & Christabelle Selvanayagam.
Journey mercies: Sis Lai Kheng Chiong (Melb); & others travelling.
God’s guidance & help with starting a Bible College.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041