My last post was about how to get the goop off from those drive-by mud-splatterdashers, and some of you have asked for help on how to quit being the guilty party. So here’s a go at it.
If you are regularly “letting people have it” and feeling awful about it, then this might be your besetting sin. A besetting sin is one that has you beat most of the time. God has made provision for us all in Christ, and He can give us the victory over these things, but it means we have to give it our attention. It’s not going to just go away quietly.You have to attack it.
The Bible teaches loads and loads of stuff on sins of the tongue. One of these very convicting verses is this: Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. This means that whatever comes out of your mouth is exactly what you have in your heart. Ouch! So the first thing to do is own this. The source of all the mud that you spray all over people is the mud in your heart, which means you have to go to the source of the problem to fix it. You can’t bring anything out of your mouth that isn’t in your heart. They are inexorably connected.
This is why the place to begin is in confessing the right sins. Rather than just confessing that you blew up at the kids, look at the attitude behind it. What’s in your heart? Do you resent your kids? Are you keeping a record of wrongs against your husband? Are you taking things personally when your kids disobey? Are you still mad at your mother-in-law for something she said or did years ago? Did your friends cut you out? This stuff builds up and just festers and multiplies and pretty soon your heart is like a pressure cooker with the heat turned up high, and it’s gonna blow in a big way. Beans are going to get on the ceiling if you don’t intervene.
Now there are two ways to deal with this pressure cooker situation. You can just blow once every so often to release the pressure, and this might make you feel better for a while. But as soon as you’ve finished telling everyone off, the pressure just starts building again because you haven’t really turned off the heat. You have just clamped the lid down again, and it’s just a matter of time before the next blow. This stuff is what wrecks lives.
Go to the real heart of the issue. Make a list (if that helps) of all the things you have in your heart, all those resentments and discontents and grievances. Then pray through that list, asking God to forgive you for keeping it all there, and asking Him for the grace to forgive those who have sinned against you. Let it all go. Destroy that list, and whenever your mind wanders over to those things, rein it in. Don’t indulge it. Go to war with yourself over these things.
Then pray. Jesus taught us to ask God to “lead us not into temptation.” That is what I mean by praying preventatively. If you are tempted to blow up at the breakfast table, then pray before you go to bed that you will be sweetness and light. And leave yourself a reminder somewhere in the morning so you can pray that you’ll have your guard up. This means you are alert, paying attention to your temptations, armed with the Holy Spirit, and not reacting to the situation around you.
Mortifying the flesh means putting it to death. It is not like switching a light off. It takes time. But it means that you shut up when you feel like popping off, you turn away when you are wanting to fire off a hot one, and you pray like crazy when you feel like letting someone have it. In other words, you resist. And you immediately confess what’s in your heart so it won’t come out your mouth.
Then make restitution. When you have been unkind to your kids, seek their forgiveness without making excuses. Put it right. Don’t sweep it under the rug or hope everyone forgets. They don’t. When you confess your sins to God and you put things right with your neighbor, then you can thank God for forgiveness and press on. And if you still feel yucky, that is regret. Though regret is understandable, it is unproductive, so just stop it and move on. If your kids refuse to forgive you, then be kind. Give them time. Let them see that you really mean it this time. Don’t blow up at their lack of forgiveness. Don’t tell them you’ve turned over a new leaf. Wait until they ask you what has happened to you. Show them, don’t tell them.
We sin because we want to. Own up to God that you enjoy driving by in your big truck and hitting the mud puddles. If you didn’t like it, you wouldn’t be tempted to do it.