(This is the sixth of my current message series GIVE IT UP! (for Lent and Beyond)
Here lately I’ve been accused of stepping on some toes. Well, have I got some good news for you! This message will not apply to you. It’s for those other folks—the person sitting next to you—on the other side—your neighbors—your in-laws—your coworkers—your boss! We’re going to look at Giving Up Negativity! Only 1 verse for today. Proverbs 10:11 (NLT):
The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.
You know I was being facetious about this message not being for you but all those other folks. The truth is, at any time all of us become guilty of being negative. Look at these words again, this time from The Message—“the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.” Don’t shut off your hearing—just hear me out.
It’s not so much that WE are wicked—it’s that if we are not careful AND intentional, we allow our mouths to become an instrument of THE Wicked One! And we become another wicked mouth—another instrument for the Wicked One—when our words stink with negativity! It’s what Brian Houston of Hillsong Church in Australia calls “Verbal Terrorism”. Most of those who have the wicked mouth are appalled at and are against any form of abuse. Yet those who speak negative words from their negative hearts and minds are the most abusive of all.
If you can remember only one thing, this is it:
Negative energy can squash positive energy. A negative thought, comment or action is very good at destroying good things and making someone or something fail.
A negative remark becomes a rumor that becomes a false witness, which becomes an ugly situation. Negativity works by being passed from one person to another. We all know negative people. We know them at school, at work, in our neighborhoods, our in-laws and yes, even in our church. Some of them whine; they are almost always critical and never satisfied. Others are harsh, nasty and angry. And still others are cynical, malicious, sarcastic, narcissistic and unfriendly. We know to stay out of their way.
And there are those who follow only their egos and desires, doing whatever it takes to attain their goals, leaving behind a long trail of negativity, pain and destruction. Some of us are constantly fending off the negativity that pushes against us. The bad experiences of life take a heavy toll on our spirit. If gone unchecked, we can become the same grumpy and sad people we criticize and try to AVOID.
People do not become negative overnight. There are more than a few happy-go-lucky kids who grew up to become nasty or depressed old people because of the negativity accumulated over the years. Many people spend their adult lives trying to prove themselves to the world because of a few bad kids who taunted them in childhood.
Negativity is a killer. Negativity will Kill your present life and any chance of a future fulfilling life. Negativity creates more negativity. Negativity sticks around and leaves deep wounds that do not heal easily. The wicked mouth is used by the Wicked One to kill the Vision and Mission of a church.
No one likes negativity, yet everyone participates in it and at a moment’s notice—joins right in. How many of you jump into a gossip session or throw in a snide remark if a person’s name is mentioned? Point the finger of blame at someone else?
The fruit of negativity is too large to list: pain, division, anger, fear, sadness, paranoia, isolation, bitterness, are just a few. A negative church raises negative Christians. You can tell them by their fruit. Their focus is NOT on ‘forgiveness’, ‘grace’, ‘hope’ or ‘love’. Some focus on ‘sinners’ and ‘hellfire’. They love to SCARE their members to God. They succeed not only in making their members afraid of God, but they are nervous and afraid that the devil will get them. They reluctantly serve God just to save themselves from hell. No love for others, but care only for their self-preservation.
A negative church also creates coarse, self-righteous, divisive members who isolate themselves and demonize those who disagree with them. It takes as few as one negative person whose angry nit-picking, to catch fire with other members and eventually bring down the whole church. Negativity is a great tool of the devil.
No church is ever 100% negativity free. Many can have great music, worship, sermons and teachings, yet still have hidden prejudices, in-fighting, gossiping and self-righteousness among themselves. In a church setting, many people who visit a church can SENSE that something doesn’t seem right, and they don’t come back. Those that do come back and stay think that is the way the church operates because the people in the congregation don’t say anything against it, then it must be OK. Right? WRONG!
How many good intentioned churches have all the makings of a wonderful place of worship, but quietly keep out ‘undesirables’ or teach their congregations, that certain people are not loved or forgiven by God. Or teach that God only cares about following the rules exactly. Somehow, forgiveness, love and grace are secondary. There are certain ‘diagnostic’ Here Are The Signs Of The Spirit Of Negativity In A Person And In Church:
1] They Ignore The Good.
Instead of the “whatsoever things are good”, it’s a witch hunt for ‘whatsoever things are not good’. “Not good” is defined by their definitions, not God’s definition. Attention, energy and resources are directed toward fixing things—be it programs or staff or pastor. Just One ‘not good’ thing becomes the driving force for them—whether it is a person, a program, style of worship or an issue.
2] They Focus On Mistakes.
For them it doesn’t matter what else is happening—it’s all about the mistakes. Because mistakes are their focus, they are looking for them. Their eye is trained to look for someone to make a mistake. And even if the mistake is an honest and unintentional one, the benefit of the doubt is absent. They look at others so critically that they believe someone is going to make that mistake. So they watch and watch, and if anything gets close to what they consider a mistake, they pounce on it like a big cat pounces on its prey and unload both barrels.
3] They Sacrifice Their Gifts And Passion.
When I say sacrifice, I do not mean it in the sense that they give it up for Jesus. They set their gifts and passion aside—put it in a box and in a closet. They are not interested in the Mission of God Because They Lose Sight Of The Big Picture. All that they could become and do for Jesus is locked away; and it’s all because of their wicked mouth. The result of this sacrificing of their gifts and passion is that they become more in love with their past than they are in God’s future! They moan that things are not like they used to be. That negative spirit, those negative words, causes them to look backwards to how it was back then and miss how it can be right now.
Negativity is among the most dangerous diseases UNKNOWN to people. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Over my years, I’ve only known a handful of people who intentionally chose to have that wicked mouth and live in the spirit of negativity. Most I’ve seen just eased into it. One thing goes wrong; something changes—and before they even realize—negative words form.
Those negative words ooze into their thinking just once. Then another thing happens, and their mouth becomes wicked. Then it’s another and then another. Soon, even unaware, they are possessed with those wicked lips become another instrument of the Wicked One. But There Is A Way Of Overcoming the Spirit of Negativity.
1] Transform Your Minds (Romans 12:2).
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Notice that this word is TRANSFORM, not REFORM. It’s not about doing a little tweaking here and there. Think about an automobile engine: It’s the difference between changing spark plugs and complete overhauling the motor. It’s look at every part and replacing everything that’s not up to the original specifications. The original specifications of your mind is to think the way God thinks.
But the wicked mouth reveals that it ain’t so because we are tainted by the Wicked One. And Paul tells us how to transform the mind:
- Begin each day by giving your day to God
- Remember what God has done and is doing for your life (picture of Him on the Cross)
- Reject what your environment and culture say is right
- Listen to what God wants from you; it’s found in the Bible
- Then respond immediately to what God wants
And God will begin changing you from the inside first. Then He lifts you up on the outside by giving back to you what the Wicked One took away from you because of your sin.
2] Change Your Thinking (Philippians 4:8).
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
Once God has transformed your mind—He expects you to use it in ways that are consistent with His ways. There is a key word Paul uses: Fix or as the KJV puts it Think. In the Greek it means “to consider, take account, weigh, meditate”. The Wicked Mouth doesn’t say things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious the best, the beautiful, things to praise.
Wicked lips speak things from the Wicked Mind—malicious words, degrading words, dishonorable words, despicable words. God sees things, situations and people in a different way. Consider the ways and heart of God. Give God’s thoughts more weight than your thoughts. Words that tear down, words that discourage others, come from the Wicked Lips.
3] Control Your Mouths. (James 3:6)
And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.
Rather than me explaining this, let’s just see what the Bible says about controlling your mouth:
- Psalm 141:3—“Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips.”
- Proverbs 12:13—“The wicked are trapped by their own words, but the godly escape such trouble.
- Proverbs 13:3—“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.”
- Proverbs 11:11—“Upright citizens are good for a city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart.
- Proverbs 21:23—“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.” Or from The Message—“Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.
- Ephesians 4:29—“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
- Proverbs 10:19—“Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.
- Proverbs 10:11—“The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.”
Lips express the words that are formed in our mind produced by our thoughts. The wicked mouth expresses the wicked mind, that reveals the Spirit of Negativity. The Negative Thoughts We Have About Others And The World Are Often Rooted In The Negative Thoughts We Have About Ourselves. Have you ever consider this to be true in life, in others, even in yourself?
Your next step is to make this declaration about your own mind and attitude.
Therefore, I hereby declare this to be true about me:
- I repent of my past negative attitude and words.
- I am a child of God.
- I am who He says I am.
- I am special to God and His Kingdom.
- I am forgiven.
- I am a product of God’s grace.
- I am a Christ-follower.
- I am a champion for Christ.
- I am more than a conqueror.
- I am filled with His Spirit, and will walk in the Spirit throughout this day.
- When I return home, I will praise Him for His protection, I will bless Him for His mercy, and I will sing His praises in the night!
- I will live life to the fullest today.
- I will bless someone today with my words.
- I will speak words of life, of comfort, of healing and power.
- I will walk in victory.
- I can do what He says I can do, and today I will live life in abundance!
- There is no turning back.
Now, go do the next right thing!