How to Dwell in the Tent of the Lord
'Lord, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?'
(Psalms 15:1 NKJV)
This week I wish to ask the psalmist about who will be able to approach the Lord, enter his presence. And if the first answer could be expected, the following makes us reflect: "He who walks uprightly, And works righteousness, And speaks the truth in his heart; He who does not backbite with his tongue, Nor does evil to his neighbor, Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend” (Psalms 15:2-3). Walking flawlessly and doing what is right is not enough. In fact, what our mouth utters has great weight in the relationship with God. We read of "speaking the truth", "not slandering" and "not insulting", simply because what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart. Words are the continuation of our thoughts which, in turn, arouse other reflections, associations of ideas and emotions, based on the perception we have of them. With words we can console or make people suffer, we can deceive or disillusion, we can encourage or even slap. Lift or squeeze. Lighten or weigh down. Understanding that we have such potential should help us to limit errors and their consequences, because if some words can revive, others can hurt like stabs. In fact, the tongue is spoken of as a sword, and when it is forked, its blade is particularly dangerous.
Learning to weigh words, what a daunting task. How many times have we promised ourselves, and how many more have we asked for it, but punctually without the expected result. Anyone at least once in their life will have happened to say something harmful to someone, and it is not said that it was knowingly. We are so pervaded by the conviction that perfection lives in us, that we no longer pay the slightest attention to addressing our neighbors with “dangerous” words. I believe that learning to hold the tongue will always be profitable. We will avoid doing harm, we will avoid attracting judgment. The apostle Paul must have known its potential well in exhorting those of Ephesus: “Let no bad word go out of your mouth; but if you have a good one, which you build according to need, say it so that it will bestow grace on those who hear it" (Ephesians 4:29). God help us to recognize when we have a good word, and only then to pronounce it. At the same time we should learn to open our mouths to exercise faith, and therefore to confess the truth of the Word, to declare God's faithfulness, his love for him, his power.
James, too, must have had good reasons in this regard, since he writes: "And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell" (James 3:6). The apostle speaks of iniquity because all conceivable wickedness can be enclosed in it. Suffice it to reflect that Jesus was sentenced to death because he was unjustly accused of having blasphemed the name of God. He ended up on the cross because a crowd pronounced a name, Barabbas. Who knows how many times we have been hurt by words? Attributes or adjectives that did not correspond to our being or acting, which touched us deeply. We have thus learned that the saying that words are taken away by the wind is not true. Indeed, it is the words that bring wind and stormy winds. While we are committed to keeping it under control, I quote the pastoral words of Augustine: “Let us therefore, dear friends, understand that, if no one can tame the language, we must have recourse to God to tame our language. In fact, if you want to tame it, you will not succeed, because you are a man. No man can tame the tongue. ... So God should be sought so that man may be tamed. … Let us submit to him and implore his mercy. In him we place our hope and until we are tamed, entirely tamed, that is, until we are perfected, we bear his hand which tames us” (Speech 55).
Weekly Bible Reading
Plan # 34
August 16, Psalms 94-96; Romans 15:14-33
August 17, Psalms 97-99; Romans 16
August 18, Psalms 100-102; 1 Corinthians 1
August 19, Psalms 103-104; 1 Corinthians 2
August 20, Psalms 105-106; 1 Corinthians 3
August 21, Psalms 107-109; 1 Corinthians 4
August 22, Psalms 110-112; 1 Corinthians 5
Photo by G Schouten de Jel, www.freeimages.com