Here's a "start of the week challenge" for you, my friend! 

2020 has been a year riddled with challenges, frustrations, disappointments, disasters, setbacks, inconveniences, pains, hurts, heartaches... you get the point. On top of it, we've all (around the world) endured the media circus/dumpster fire that has been the political climate, stemming in large part from the American election and the ongoing pandemic. Naturally, there's been no little cause for frustration this year.  

If you're like me, you've found yourself voicing your frustration fairly regularly. Let me just say that's completely understandable given some of the circumstances, situations and challenges so many of us have had to endure of late. That said, can I suggest some food for thought today?

Here it is; Don't vent your frustrations. Venting our frustration is simultaneously the most natural and unhelpful thing we all do. 

Nothing feels more immediately satisfying than simply releasing pent-up rage, disappointment, frustration, criticism or anger; however, like many sins, it feels good at the moment, but the results are negative in the end. Venting our anger is a deconstructive practice that feels like it's helping in the moment, which sounds a whole lot like sin. 

Sin always promises what it can't deliver. 

When we vent our frustration, criticize others, gossip, or vent our anger, we are doing something that feels "so right," but in the end, is so wrong.

The Bible says that "a fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back." (Proverbs 29:11)

James tells us that there is nothing as potentially destructive as our words when we use them negatively or even ignorantly/haphazardly. (James 3:1-12)

The Bible is quite clear that we are to be intentional about what we allow to exit our mouths.  

Paul, the Apostle, perhaps put it best when he said to "not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths." (Ephesians 4:29a)

The Bible is clear, our words are powerful, and we often allow our feelings and frustrations to drive what we give voice to, and the Bible, simply put, says, "that's a bad idea."  

When it comes to venting our anger, the Bible says to kindly, "shut up."

But the Bible's instruction doesn't simply tell us what not to do with our words, it invites us to consider harnessing their power for good! In the same way that we are to be intentional to put a lid on the negative and destructive words, we are invited to let loose on the positive life-building words. After all, the Bible also says that the "power of death and life are in the tongue." (Proverbs 18:21)

The Lord wants us to be encouragements, to speak life, to build others up.

Paul, after telling us to "not let any unwholesome talk out," invites us to let the constructive stuff loose; he says to speak "only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

The instruction is clear; if you're a follower of Jesus, you need to intentionally shut up the destructive speech and let loose that which is constructive. 

In light of all of that, here's my challenge for you:

1. Try to intentionally shut up anything that is overtly negative, critical, or deconstructive for the next few days and see what effect this has on you and others.

2. Try to intentionally let loose speech that builds others up for the next few days and see what effect this has on you and others.  

I think you'll find being an encouragement a much better life strategy.

Have a great week,