Coffee Pot Speech in a Fire Hose World

My coffee pot has been speaking to me.

Not literally, of course. No need to call in the folks with the white coats, at least not yet. It’s speaking to me as a metaphor, which, come to think of it, is pretty common in my life. I see metaphors all around me – in nature, in mental images, in concepts, and in inanimate objects such as coffee pots – and they speak to me.

What’s the coffee pot saying, you ask?

The best way I can describe it is by quoting Proverbs 15:28 – “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.”

The coffee pot, in other words, has become my personal metaphor for controlling my speech. Good coffee begins with good beans. But what happens if you don’t filter your coffee? Regardless of the quality of the beans, the pot gushes bitter junk you can’t drink and that you would never serve to anyone.

My words also need a filter. Just because I’m thinking something, doesn’t mean I need to say it. And when I need to say something, I am wise to filter it appropriately. But we live in a world where many people seem to think their mouths should be an open fire hose rather than a filtered coffee pot. We are tempted daily to gush every opinion with little regard for if it will help or damage our spiritual health or our relationships with others.

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), so it’s not surprising that the Bible has plenty to say about the value of filtering our speech. Here are a few reasons it tells me to value coffee pot speech:

It brings healing, not pain. Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

It benefits others. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” And Proverbs 15:4 says, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”

It strengthens relationships. Proverbs 17:9 says, “Whoever would foster love covers an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” And Proverbs 26:10 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down.”

It leads to wisdom and wise responses. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

It’s a form of self-protection. Proverbs 21:23 says, “Those who guard their mouths and tongues keep themselves from calamity.” And Proverbs 10:19 says, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

It’s for my good. 1 Peter 3:10 says, “For, ‘Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.’” And Matthew 15:11 says, “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

I have found a simple truth about my coffee pot. The quality of the coffee it makes depends largely on the quality of the coffee I put into it and whether I use a good filter to block the impurities. That’s what I want from my speech, as well.

 

 

 

Staying Engaged in the Imperfect Church

The pastor was teaching about the importance of staying engaged in a strong local church, and he provided three reasons/warnings why people typically disengage. It was the 11:30 a.m. service, and we were sitting along an aisle, second row from the very back, in the less-than-a-year-old worship center. In front of us were two teens, one who was texting throughout much of the service. Behind us were two teens who spent the service talking, giggling, and kicking the back of my seat.

These distractions were helpful reminders that I love my church even when it’s not perfectly meeting my needs. It occurred to me, in fact, that there is at least one reason not listed by the pastor that we disengage from the church – the church tends to let us down in all sorts of ways because the church is filled with imperfect people. Pastors, staff, fellow members … they might say something that offends us, fail to show appreciation or support for things we’re doing or trying to do, act unprofessionally in small ways like not responding to emails … We get our feelings hurt because, of course, the world, including the church, is supposed to meet our needs, right? But, as the pastor aptly put it, only Jesus meets all of our needs. Only Jesus is perfect. The rest of us are prone to error.

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I’ve been guilty of selfish frustration with the imperfect church, so I’m seeking forgiveness. One, I know I contribute greatly to that imperfection. Two, I know how much God blesses me and my family through our church. Heartfelt worship … Biblical teaching … amazing leadership … Godly men and women serving selflessly out of love for Jesus … the list goes on and on. God even uses the imperfections to teach me things like patience, forgiveness, self-awareness, and the importance of loving one another when it’s not easy – like when some is kicking the back of my seat.