Category Archives: Christian Character

idle words:

For sure, words are powerful things. God’s words were so powerful that they actually created everything (Genesis 1). But even the words of us humans can do powerful things. Solomon wrote in Proverbs 18:21 that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” The power of life and death can be seen in jury trials, where witnesses and jury members can speak words that might literally determine whether a defendant lives or dies. Less extreme, but no less real, are the power of encouraging words to give hope and joy and the power of discouraging words to spark dismay and depression.

Jesus said, “I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36). The KJV translates “every empty word” as “every idle word”; the ESV says, “every careless word.” The Greek phrase is rema argos, meaning “careless or inactive or unprofitable words.” In context, Jesus is contrasting the “good things” within a good person with the “evil things” in the heart of an evil person. We are admonished to make the best use of our words, because words express what is in our hearts: “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34).

In Matthew 12:37, the significance of words is that they will be used to gauge a person’s spiritual condition in the judgment: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus was speaking to a group of Pharisees who had just accused Jesus of being demon-possessed (verse 24). Jesus calls them a “brood of vipers” and asks them, “How can you who are evil say anything good?” (verse 34). Just as vipers have a mouthful of poison, so the Pharisees had evil words concerning the Savior.

Then Jesus warns the Pharisees of the coming judgment, at which they will be held accountable for their words (Matthew 12:37). There is no better judge of a person’s heart than the words he allows to come forth from his mouth. Just like good trees produce good fruit and bad trees produce bad fruit, so does the mouth reveal the heart’s condition (verse 33).

But it’s not just evil words for which people must give account. Jesus said every “careless” or “idle” word can also be used as a judgment against the speaker. Even the slightest sin, the smallest deviation from God’s perfection, will condemn a person in God’s eyes. The Pharisees’ sin was great—they had blasphemed the Lord of glory with their words—but even seemingly insignificant words, sometimes excused as “slips of the tongue,” are considered sinful if they do not bring glory to God. According to verse 38, Jesus had the last word on this subject, for the scribes and Pharisees changed the subject immediately.

Other passages give additional insight. Ephesians 4:29 sets the standard: “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.” James 3:8 advises us on how hard it is to control the tongue: “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Then in James 4:11–12, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Given the weighty consequences of our words—even our “careless” ones—we must learn to yield our body’s members, including our tongues, to the control of the Holy Spirit—the only One who can tame the tongue. “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).

Prophet Nathan Emol

WORDS:

Words are not simply sounds caused by air passing through our larynx. Words have real power. God spoke the world into being by the power of His words (Hebrews 11:3), and we are in His image in part because of the power we have with words. Words do more than convey information. The power of our words can actually destroy one’s spirit, even stir up hatred and violence. They not only exacerbate wounds but inflict them directly. Of all the creatures on this planet, only man has the ability to communicate through the spoken word. The power to use words is a unique and powerful gift from God.

Our words have the power to destroy and the power to build up (Proverbs 12:6). The writer of Proverb tells us, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21). Are we using words to build up people or destroy them? Are they filled with hate or love, bitterness or blessing, complaining or compliments, lust or love, victory or defeat? Like tools they can be used to help us reach our goals or to send us spiraling into a deep depression.

Furthermore, our words not only have the power to bring us death or life in this world, but in the next as well. Jesus said, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36–37). Words are so important, that we are going to give an account of what we say when we stand before the Lord Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote, “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” (Ephesians 4:29). In this passage, Paul is emphasizing the positive over the negative. The Greek word translated “unwholesome” means “rotten” or “foul.” It originally referred to rotten fruit and vegetables. Being like Christ means we don’t use foul, dirty language. For some reason, many people today think it is macho or liberating to use vulgar humor, dirty jokes, and foul language, but this kind of talk has no place in the life of a Christian. Paul continues: “. . . but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This is reminiscent of his words to the Colossians: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6; see also Colossians 3:16).

There is a remarkable parallel between Ephesians 4:25, lying; Ephesians 4:28, stealing; and Ephesians 4:29, unwholesome talk. In each case Paul is urging us to be a blessing to those with whom we have daily contact. Paul is emphasizing that merely refraining from telling lies, stealing, or unwholesome speech is not enough. The truth is that Christianity is not a mere “don’t” religion. As followers of Christ we should emulate the example of Jesus whose words were so filled with grace that the multitudes were amazed (Luke 4:22).

Jesus reminds us that the words we speak are actually the overflow of our hearts (Matthew 12:34–35). When one becomes a Christian, there is an expectancy that a change of speech follows because living for Christ makes a difference in one’s choice of words. The sinner’s mouth is “full of cursing and bitterness” (Romans 3:14); but when we turn our lives over to Christ, we gladly confess that “Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9–10). As condemned sinners, our mouths are silenced before the throne of God (Romans 3:19), but, as believers, our mouths are opened to praise and glorify God (Romans 15:6).

Christians are those whose hearts have been changed by the power of God, a change reflected in our words. Remember, before we were saved, we lived in spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1-3). Paul describes those who are dead in sin: “Their throats are open graves” (Romans 3:13). Our words are full of blessing when the heart is full of blessing. So if we fill our hearts with the love of Christ, only truth and purity can come out of our mouths.

Peter tells us, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Let the power of our words be used of God to manifest the power of our faith. Be prepared to give the reason for why we love the Lord—at any time, to anyone. Our words should demonstrate the power of God’s grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. May God enable us to use our words as an instrument of His love and saving grace.

Prophet Nathan Emol

deal with your anger wisely:

Handling anger is an important life skill. Christian counselors report that 50 percent of people who come in for counseling have problems dealing with anger. Anger can shatter communication and tear apart relationships, and it ruins both the joy and health of many. Sadly, people tend to justify their anger instead of accepting responsibility for it. Everyone struggles, to varying degrees, with anger. Thankfully, God’s Word contains principles regarding how to handle anger in a godly manner, and how to overcome sinful anger.

Anger is not always sin. There is a type of anger of which the Bible approves, often called “righteous indignation.” God is angry (Psalm 7:11Mark 3:5), and it is acceptable for believers to be angry (Ephesians 4:26). Two Greek words in the New Testament are translated as “anger.” One means “passion, energy” and the other means “agitated, boiling.” Biblically, anger is God-given energy intended to help us solve problems. Examples of biblical anger include David’s being upset over hearing Nathan the prophet sharing an injustice (2 Samuel 12) and Jesus’ anger over how some of the Jews had defiled worship at God’s temple in Jerusalem (John 2:13-18). Notice that neither of these examples of anger involved self-defense, but a defense of others or of a principle.

That being said, it is important to recognize that anger at an injustice inflicted against oneself is also appropriate. Anger has been said to be a warning flag—it alerts us to those times when others are attempting to or have violated our boundaries. God cares for each individual. Sadly, we do not always stand up for one another, meaning that sometimes we must stand up for ourselves. This is especially important when considering the anger that victims often feel. Victims of abuse, violent crime, or the like have been violated in some way. Often while experiencing the trauma, they do not experience anger. Later, in working through the trauma, anger will emerge. For a victim to reach a place of true health and forgiveness, he or she must first accept the trauma for what it was. In order to fully accept that an act was unjust, one must sometimes experience anger. Because of the complexities of trauma recovery, this anger is often not short-lived, particularly for victims of abuse. Victims should process through their anger and come to a place of acceptance, even forgiveness. This is often a long journey. As God heals the victim, the victim’s emotions, including anger, will follow. Allowing the process to occur does not mean the person is living in sin.

Anger can become sinful when it is motivated by pride (James 1:20), when it is unproductive and thus distorts God’s purposes (1 Corinthians 10:31), or when anger is allowed to linger (Ephesians 4:26-27). One obvious sign that anger has turned to sin is when, instead of attacking the problem at hand, we attack the wrongdoer. Ephesians 4:15-19 says we are to speak the truth in love and use our words to build others up, not allow rotten or destructive words to pour from our lips. Unfortunately, this poisonous speech is a common characteristic of fallen man (Romans 3:13-14). Anger becomes sin when it is allowed to boil over without restraint, resulting in a scenario in which hurt is multiplied (Proverbs 29:11), leaving devastation in its wake. Often, the consequences of out-of-control anger are irreparable. Anger also becomes sin when the angry one refuses to be pacified, holds a grudge, or keeps it all inside (Ephesians 4:26-27). This can cause depression and irritability over little things, which are often unrelated to the underlying problem.

We can handle anger biblically by recognizing and admitting our prideful anger and/or our wrong handling of anger as sin (Proverbs 28:131 John 1:9). This confession should be both to God and to those who have been hurt by our anger. We should not minimize the sin by excusing it or blame-shifting.

We can handle anger biblically by seeing God in the trial. This is especially important when people have done something to offend us. James 1:2-4Romans 8:28-29, and Genesis 50:20 all point to the fact that God is sovereign over every circumstance and person that crosses our path. Nothing happens to us that He does not cause or allow. Though God does allow bad things to happen, He is always faithful to redeem them for the good of His people. God is a good God (Psalm 145:8917). Reflecting on this truth until it moves from our heads to our hearts will alter how we react to those who hurt us.

We can handle anger biblically by making room for God’s wrath. This is especially important in cases of injustice, when “evil” men abuse “innocent” people. Genesis 50:19 and Romans 12:19 both tell us to not play God. God is righteous and just, and we can trust Him who knows all and sees all to act justly (Genesis 18:25).

We can handle anger biblically by returning good for evil (Genesis 50:21Romans 12:21). This is key to converting our anger into love. As our actions flow from our hearts, so also our hearts can be altered by our actions (Matthew 5:43-48). That is, we can change our feelings toward another by changing how we choose to act toward that person.

We can handle anger biblically by communicating to solve the problem. There are four basic rules of communication shared in Ephesians 4:1525-32:

1) Be honest and speak (Ephesians 4:1525). People cannot read our minds. We must speak the truth in love.

2) Stay current (Ephesians 4:26-27). We must not allow what is bothering us to build up until we lose control. It is important to deal with what is bothering us before it reaches critical mass.

3) Attack the problem, not the person (Ephesians 4:2931). Along this line, we must remember the importance of keeping the volume of our voices low (Proverbs 15:1).

4) Act, don’t react (Ephesians 4:31-32). Because of our fallen nature, our first impulse is often a sinful one (v. 31). The time spent in “counting to ten” should be used to reflect upon the godly way to respond (v. 32) and to remind ourselves how the energy anger provides should be used to solve problems and not create bigger ones.

At times we can handle anger preemptively by putting up stricter boundaries. We are told to be discerning (1 Corinthians 2:15-16Matthew 10:16). We need not “cast our pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6). Sometimes our anger leads us to recognize that certain people are unsafe for us. We can still forgive them, but we may choose not to re-enter the relationship.

Finally, we must act to solve our part of the problem (Romans 12:18). We cannot control how others act or respond, but we can make the changes that need to be made on our part. Overcoming a temper is not accomplished overnight. But through prayer, Bible study, and reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit, ungodly anger can be overcome. We may have allowed anger to become entrenched in our lives by habitual practice, but we can also practice responding correctly until that, too, becomes a habit and God is glorified in our response.

Prophet Nathan Emol

KNOW HOW TO MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS:

What would humans be like if we never became emotional, if we were capable of controlling emotions at all times? Perhaps we would be like Mr. Spock on Star Trek, as his responses to all situations seem to be purely logical, never emotional. But God created us in His image, and God’s emotions are revealed in the Scriptures; therefore, God created us as emotional beings. We feel love, joy, happiness, guilt, anger, disappointment, fear, etc. Sometimes our emotions are pleasant to experience and sometimes not. Sometimes our emotions are grounded in truth, and sometimes they are “false” in that they are based upon false premises. For example, if we falsely believe that God is not in control of the circumstances of our lives, we may experience the emotions of fear or despair or anger based on that false belief. Regardless, emotions are powerful and real to the one feeling them. And emotions can be helpful indicators of what is going on in our hearts.

That being said, it is important that we learn about managing emotions rather than allowing our emotions to manage us. For example, when we feel angry, it is important to be able to stop, identify that we are angry, examine our hearts to determine why we are angry, and then proceed in a biblical manner. Out-of-control emotions tend not to produce God-honoring results: “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20).

Our emotions, like our minds and bodies, are influenced greatly by the fall of mankind into sin. In other words, our emotions are tainted by our sin nature, and that is why they need controlling. The Bible tells us we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit (Romans 6Ephesians 5:15–181 Peter 5:6–11), not by our emotions. If we recognize our emotions and bring them to God, we can then submit our hearts to Him and allow Him to do His work in our hearts and direct our actions. At times, this may mean God simply comforts us, reassures us, and reminds us we need not fear. Other times, He may prompt us to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. The psalms are an excellent example of managing emotions and bringing our emotions to God. Many psalms are filled with raw emotion, but the emotion is poured out to God in an attempt to seek His truth and righteousness.

Sharing our feelings with others is also helpful in managing emotions. The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. God has given us the gift of other believers who can share our burdens and whose burdens we share (Romans 12Galatians 6:1–102 Corinthians 1:3–5Hebrews 3:13). Fellow believers can also remind us of God’s truth and offer new perspective. When we are feeling discouraged or afraid, we can benefit from the encouragement, exhortation, and reassurance other believers provide. Often, when we encourage others, we ourselves are encouraged. Likewise, when we are joyful, our joy usually increases when we share it.

Allowing our emotions to control us is not godly. Denying or vilifying our emotions is not godly, either. We should thank God for our ability to feel emotion and steward our emotions as a gift from God. The way to manage our emotions is to grow in our walk with God. We are transformed through the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:1–2) and the power of the Holy Spirit—the One who produces in us self-control (Galatians 5:23). We need daily input of scriptural principles, a desire to grow in the knowledge of God, and time spent meditating on God’s attributes. We should seek to know more of God and share more of our hearts with God through prayer. Christian fellowship is another important part of spiritual growth. We journey with fellow believers and help one another grow in faith as well as in emotional maturity.

Prophet Nathan Emol

you should control your temper:

Many people struggle with a quick or fiery temper. Although society often encourages people to express themselves and not hold back, God’s Word teaches that giving in to one’s temper is a sin.

The Bible has a lot to say about the importance of controlling one’s temper. It calls a person who easily loses his temper a “fool” (Proverbs 29:11Ecclesiastes 7:9) and describes someone who cannot control himself as a “city whose walls are broken down” (Proverbs 25:28). A person with a hot temper is often at odds with those around him, becoming easily offended and lashing out in anger for even the smallest slight (Proverbs 15:18a). As children of God, we are called to love others (John 13:35Ephesians 4:231-32) and to be at peace (James 1:19Proverbs 19:11James 3:17-18). “Love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). A person who maintains a calm, even temper is quicker to forgive and better able to live peaceably with others (Proverbs 15:18b12:1619:11).

With the Holy Spirit in our lives, we will show the fruit of His work inside us. Some of the fruits of the Spirit are peace, patience, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23)—these are essential to controlling the tendency to lose our temper. In fact, the Greek word translated “patience” (“longsuffering” in the KJV) carries the idea of “long-burning,” as in having a long fuse. As we grow in Christ, we should continue to deal appropriately with anger (no short fuses!) and react with love and patience (Colossians 3:8).

We may often feel justified in losing our temper, particularly when someone has hurt or offended us. But we are instructed to forgive (Matthew 5:446:1218:21–22), not yield to anger or seek vengeance. It is ultimately God’s prerogative to punish evildoers (Deuteronomy 32:35Romans 12:19). For an example of this forgiveness, we need only look to Jesus. When He was hanging on the cross, crucified for sins He did not commit, He did not release His wrath on the perpetrators. Instead, He asked God the Father to forgive them (Luke 23:34).

It’s important to note that anger is a valid emotion and is not always sinful. God allows for “righteous anger,” which is anger with the proper focus, the proper motivation, the proper control, the proper duration, and the proper result. Our problem is that our temper is often motivated by selfishness and directed toward other people instead of toward sin. That’s why God tells us to “let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) . . . be banished from you” (Ephesians 4:31, AMP). With God’s help, we can keep our temper in check.

Prophet Nathan Emol