Do you find yourself caught up in conversations sometimes that you wish you would have avoided? Do you find yourself among debates about who is right and who is wrong when it comes to church, work, our families, or even things that concern our nation? I think we have all experienced this more often than we would like. This even happened when Jesus told his disciples that one of them would betray him.
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 23 And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. 24 And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. — Luke 22:21
This was such an important night, yet how quickly did the conversation get away from what the Lord was trying to show them about the events that were about to take place. They ended up being more concerned about their prestige in the kingdom and did not perceive what he was trying to tell them about his death and resurrection. We spend too much time worrying about our status and wanting to prove that we are right which takes our eyes off Jesus and the task at hand.
I often hear, “If you are a Christian, you should do this, or not do that…” but if we are not careful what we intended to be good and helpful in a situation will quickly fill us with pride and turn the discussion in a completely different direction. We must be mindful of our thoughts and words because if we are not then our focus gets off track. The disciples intended to do good by finding out who would betray their Lord, but almost instantly, puffed up thoughts of which one was the greatest took over their discussion and led to strife. It’s amazing how a discussion can lead to bitterness, anger, controversy, dissension, and bickering!
Jesus goes on to tell the disciples that the one who serves is the greatest. We often associate this with serving Jesus and how that makes us feel good because he is deserving of our service, but let us remind ourselves that we cannot serve Christ without serving others! He was their master, yet He washed their feet after serving them a meal. If you want to serve Christ, you must serve others. And we cannot effectively serve when we cannot communicate.
We must exercise discipline on a daily basis to ensure that our speech is encouraging, not damaging. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” We must be careful not to leave a bitter taste when speaking with people. Our speech should be savory and helpful, never discouraging. Don’t let others control your conversation and take it in a direction you do not need to go!
I pray, “Father, guide me this day. Direct my path and let me be ready for all those I come into contact with. Let my speech be graceful, helpful, and encouraging to others. Let me also discern when I should refrain from engaging in conversation that would tear down others and allow pride to creep in. Help me serve others in all I say and do, in Jesus’ name, amen.”
Rev. Cathleen N. Cathcart is pastor of New Life Worship Center in Spartanburg.