2009-05-20 / Religion

'Think Twice--Speak Once!'

(Pastor James Scarborough, Donalsonville Assembly of God)

The longer I live, there is one lesson I am really learning. That lesson is, I still have a lot to learn! As in the other avenues of life, that principle applies to preaching as much as anything else-- preaching for many years does not make me immune to blunders.

A recent case in point involved an illustration that I used in the Sunday morning sermon. It was one of those off-the-cuff, unplanned types. Such illustrations usually work well--but not always.

As I expounded on Matthew 15 about the faith of the Canaanite woman, an event that occurred many years ago crossed my mind that seemed like a good way to reinforce my point. I started to share my story about going to buy a pig. The sow and her pigs were in a large open pen, with plenty of room for them to run. When we managed to catch the weaning aged pig and the sow heard the squeal from her offspring, it was time to flee for our lives. My point in telling the story was to stress how devoted she was to her pigs and that the very hint of danger for one of her pigs made her willing to do whatever it took to protect her little one--she had no fear that there were more of us than of her as she boldly took us on.

That sounds like a reasonable illustration to make a point, but in my moment of zeal in my message, there were a couple of things I had not properly thought through.

First of all, until someone brought it to my attention later, I had given little thought that many of our young people have had little direct dealings with hogs under such circumstances. Indeed, quite a few of them might not even realize that a sow is a mama pig.

But my second miscalculation really made me remember how important it for us to think before speaking. You see, that sermon was given on Mother's Day, and I was trying to stress that for Godly mothers, no price is too high to pay when it comes to seeking what her children need. When the dots are connected between the illustration and the point, you can see why I was accused of calling the ladies sows! It is wise to choose your words carefully--especially on Mother's Day!!

The ladies of the church love me (I hope they still do), and they know that I love them and have the deepest respect for them, so we all had a good laugh and a great time as I quickly transitioned to my next point. But it did remind me again of how tremendously important it is to choose our words carefully. Just as a good carpenter knows the value of measuring twice and cutting once, we need to train ourselves to think carefully before we speak.

The Book of James has a lot to say about the trouble that our words can cause us and how we should learn to tame our tongues. I leave you with these words found in James 1:19: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry" (NIV).

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