My lesson for this week :March 21st, 2012 Intregity and speech
Proverbs 12:24-31 SAAS Second Vesperal Reading, Fourth Wednesday of
24 Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but he who shows
faithfulness is acceptable to
25 A man of understanding is a throne of perception, but the heart of
the undiscerning will meet
26 The hand of the chosen shall prevail easily, but the deceitful shall
be for captivity.
27 A fearful word troubles the heart of a righteous man, but a good
message makes him glad.
28 A righteous arbiter shall be his own friend, but the decisions of the
ungodly are unreasonable.
29 Evil things shall pursue sinners, and the way of the ungodly will
lead them astray.
30 A deceitful man will not gain his prey, but a pure man is a precious
31 In the ways of righteousness there is life, but the ways of
remembering wrongs are unto death.
Proverbs 12:24-31 (03/21 or 04/03)
Second Vesperal Reading, Fourth Wednesday of Lent
Integrity and Speech: Proverbs 12:24-31, especially vs. 24, "Lying lips
are an abomination to the Lord, but he who shows faithfulness is
acceptable to Him." Even as the Lord warns against lying, He encourages
us to show understanding, perception, and conciliation through the
choice of pure words in our communication. To attain such integrity of
speech necessitates a restraint that foremost is infused with a full
measure of God's grace. Godly restraint in speech, as is true of every
aspect of living, begins deep within the hearts and souls of the
faithful in Christ.
Saint Philotheos of Sinai teaches that "Nothing is more unsettling than
talkativeness and more pernicious than an unbridled tongue, disruptive
as it is of the soul's proper state." For chatter within "...destroys
what we build each day and scatters what we have laboriously gathered
together." Hence, the Saint adds, "The tongue has to be restrained,
checked by force and muzzled...to serve only what is needful." At the
first checkpoint, there must be "...deliberate silencing of [our]
tongue, even though the intellect [i.e., the nous] itself may not yet be
How do we gain restraint in speech? We must pray the Lord for help, and
plead with Him to make us wise rulers that govern well from "...a throne
of perception..." (vs. 25). For this very reason the Apostle Paul bids
us to seek the mind of Christ within us (Php. 2:5), for as we seek to
control ourselves, God will not abandon us nor thwart our efforts to
control our words. He will help us as the wise 'Co-Regent' of our heart.
When the Lord Jesus rules with us, a 'feedback effect' occurs: we listen
with greater attentiveness, and the Holy Spirit reveals the mind of
Christ so that we take even firmer hold on the 'rudder' of our speech
(Jam. 3:4). The example of Abba Philimon is instructive as we seek to
become wise about how we talk and in our perception: the brethren who
served with Father Philimon in the monastery at Sketis report that
"...he would never listen to idle talk. If someone inadvertently said
something which was of no benefit to the soul, he did not respond at all."
And when Abba Philimon was asked about the way to noetic purity, he
said, "...he who renounces the world, ranging himself with Christ and
devoting himself to stillness, loves God; he guards the divine image in
himself and enriches his likeness to God, receiving from Him the help of
the Spirit and becoming an abode of God and not of the demons." Such is
the road we must take in order to "...prevail easily..." and escape from
"...captivity" (Pr. 12:26).
As a "...fearful word troubles the heart of a righteous man, but a good
message makes him glad" (Pr. 12:27), so likewise we need to give
attention to our hearing, in the manner provided by Saint Nikolai of
Zicha: "When a man detaches his mind from the earth and opens it to God
with the desire of pleasing Him, then God reveals His will to him in
various ways. Saint Peter Damascene writes: 'If a man has a
wholehearted desire to please God, to him will God show His will through
his thoughts, or through some other person or through Holy Scripture.'
Such a man will be careful and will await the promptings of God, both
inward and outward. For him there is no such thing as chance...." It
matters so much where we 'tune' our attention.
If the first line of self-defense is from the heart, then we will be
able to guard our speech and personal integrity at the same time; but we
must certainly recognize every evil that 'pursues sinners' leads the
ungodly astray, and foils 'the deceitful man' (Pr. 12:29,30). Saint
John of Kronstadt reminds us that God's judgment concerning our speech
is the source by which to measure our integrity: "...an answer and a
punishment awaits you for every idle word and not only for scandalous,
shameful ones. It is because that with our Lord, the All-creating Word,
there is not, and cannot be, any idle words....Therefore, be most
watchful not to speak idly, unmeaningly, either in prayer or in
conversation." As we learn in Proverbs: "In the ways of righteousness
there is life, but the ways of remembering wrongs are unto death" (vs. 31).
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth and a protecting door about my
lips. Incline not my heart to evil words to make excuses in sins, with
men that work iniquity, and I will not communicate with the choicest of
them. (see Psalm 140:3-5)"
I received the above in an e-mail from the wonderful Dynamis site.
I rarely lie - in fact, hardly ever - but I do talk more than I should. Something seems to happen to me when I have a new audience to impress. I have tried so many times to right this wrong but nothing seems to work. My most effective method is to cut down on the times I go out and meet new people. I never hurt people on purpose with my words and if I find that I have unintentionally hurt someone I apologize immediately, then pray about it. But, none of this helps with my outpouring of me, me, me..................... Please pray for me.
I believe that this Lent is very important for all Christians. Prayer and fasting are effective.
Lent and Pascha 2012
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