I recommend that you listen to the entire message for yourself: "Faith that Moves Us to Godly WIsdom", and put forth the caveat that what follows is how God used these words in my life, and may or may not communicate exactly what the pastor was trying to impart.
If you know me in real life, or even through this blog, it is not a secret that a weakness of mine is my speech and how I use my words. Sometimes I don't think. I am quite opinionated, and sometimes I don't listen. The past year has had some struggles in it, primarily my struggle to transition from a predominatley suburban school district to a much more diverse city school district, compounded with the reality that the group of kids I worked with this year have their own struggles with how they use their words and being opinionated. I have been highly frustrated at my inability to establish a class community of kindness and respect.
The crux of the message that I listened to was that, if we speak truth without humility or love, we actually can cause truth to be used by the enemy and can tempt other people to sin. I have said to loved ones, more than once, "But it's TRUE". This reply is usually in response to someone telling me that I am being negative or have hurt their feelings. I felt like it was their problem if what I said was true.
Ephesians 4:15 says this: "Rather, ing in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is head, into Christ." I am quite familiar with that verse in theory. Apparently not so much in practice.
Could it be that much of my frustration in my classroom is due to the fact that, while I was speaking the truth about the inappropriate/disrespectful speech and behavior, I was doing it without humility or love? My correction wasn't coming from a heart wanting to help my students become better people, but from a heart wanting my class to behave in front of others and to simply make my day easier (both motives based the selfish ambition James referenced)? Furthermore, since my discipline was being delivered with little love, it actually caused MORE problems and disrespect (aka sin) from my students?
Closer to home, my other big struggle of the year (my life?) is how I share truth with my husband. Just the day before I listened to this message, I had shared a truth without (I now know) love or humility, and when my husband's feelings were hurt (and it wasn't even something directly related to him), I just kept saying, "But it's true. I can't help it if it's discouraging." The lightbulb--I was probably only sharing so that I could make some kind of snarky or self-righteous pronouncement, not to bring love or grace into the situation.
It's been a week or so since I listened to the message, and I have been praying about it and thinking about it often. I have also been trying to put it into practice. The only way that my heart will change is to draw closer to Jesus and the cross. When I do that, I see the sin in my own heart, and the humility and love that Jesus offers me even as He shows me the truth of my wickedness and my need for His redemption. Has my class magically become sweet and compliant? No. But I am becoming better at speaking the truth with love and taking time to weigh my words and heart.
My true words, in order to be truly wise, need to be peaceable, gentle, full of mercy, and sincere, just to name a few. (James 3, 17). I will only find this wisdom by drawing near to Christ.