Have you ever had a sentence jump off the page at you? You know those moments when you trip over a word phrase or suddenly a clip of a book grips you? If you are prone to just move along and not pay attention to that split second longing that calls us to enter into curiosity and spontaneity. I want to encourage you to start paying attention to that feeling in your body, that voice in your head, that yearning in our heart that says stop, slow down, wait, there’s something here for you.
This morning I’m reading in my day by day devotional and I come across a statement that says about a man who sold everything that he had and moved into the desert for 20 years. His name was Anthony. The sentence that I tripped over was “He renounced speech in order to learn compassion.” This statement is provoking and intriguing It’s something to give attention. These kinds of statements can come at any time through people, media, books and so much more. For me, I understand this to be God talking to me more about what He has already been saying. A couple months ago I heard the Lord say to me, “hold your tongue.” At the time I was struggling with being salty about some things. It was beginning to bubble over and out of my mouth. I could hear a crankiness growing in me. Not too long after He said, “I have made you to be one who speaks.” It almost could sound like a contradiction. It’s not! One of the things I love most about the God of the universe is that He is mysterious and awesome. I find it interesting and compelling that He would use these two statements in my life around the same time. If you are not paying attention to the things that grip your heart you may be missing the beauty and mystery of the God who is intimately interested in you and the calling He has for your life. If that is the case and you have not yet entered into the adventure. I encourage you to lean in! Listen. Don’t miss Him. My guess is if you aren’t in the adventure, you are bored with life a lot.
So, with this statement that seems to leap off the page, come my questions of curiosity. How does “not speaking” teach us compassion? As I ponder, my mind swirls on thoughts of how at times it is not compassionate to speak your mind. All manner of vile thing can float through your mind and if you open your mouth there will be no compassion. But then I thought about Anthony, the man who sold all he had and went in to the desert for 20 years. He left all the hustle and bustle of living a life of wealth in Egypt. Have you ever tried to step away from life? Have you taken a break from your phone, from the busy day to day, and from all the goings and doings? I have. I go on a camping trip every year with my sister and my mom. We go to a lake, that for me, has a bad signal and because of that I can detox somewhat from the bling of notifications. It takes a few days for my mind to stop swirling on all the to do’s and settle down into rest. I wonder how long it took Anthony to stop swirling on the fact that he just sold all he had and moved to the desert? I wonder if he freaked out a bit about what people would think of him? What I do know, from the story, is that he stayed out there for 20 years renouncing speech to learn compassion. Maybe we cant be compassionate when we are talking all the time, whether in our heads, out loud or on our phones. We can’t be people who “see a need and fill that need” type of people when we are distracted all the time. We can’t be compassionate when we can’t see anything but what we are doing, where we are going, and how we are going to accomplish our agenda. – Tweet That!
Luke 10 30-33 “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
This passage of scripture is given by Jesus just after an”expert” of the law asks him questions about how to inherit eternal life and Jesus asks him about the great commandment to which he says, “Love God & Love your neighbor” (my paraphrase) Then he says “who is my neighbor?” and Jesus gives the above parable.
There are three kinds of people when it comes to being compassionate:
- “I just happen to be here” The priest happened to be going down the same road as the man. Maybe he considered what could happen to him if he stayed on the road and helped. After all, a priest would be considered unclean for 7 days if he touched a dead body and unable to continue his religious work. These kinds of people find “being of help” a matter of convenience and secondary to their more important things.
- “I’m just here.” The Levite came to the same place. Levites where those who took care of the menial, day to day tasks. They were the worker bees. Maybe he had business in the area to get too. These are the people who see the need too but are too busy to stop and help. They are on a mission to check off their task lists each day.
- “I am here and I can help” The Samaritan came across the injured man as he was traveling. The Samaritan’s were a people who were regarded as “a less than” group of people. The priest and the Levite would very well have passed on the other side then to pass on the same side and be caught brushing shoulders with a Samaritan. These are people who are present to where they are. They have felt the pain of being less than, hurt, and in need so they have compassion and help others.
So what does this have to do with speech? A lot! Speech is the process to address and interact with an audience to deliver a message. We learn to speak from our parents and our culture and traditions. These are things that have been passed down to us feon previois generations. I come from a long line of women who speak their minds. At times I don’t have much of a filter especially if I am comfortable with the person to whom I am speaking. God speaks all the time. He spoke the world into motion. He spoke and there was light. His speech has power and so does ours. What if like the priest and the Levite we can become so use to the way we have learned to speak? (Let me make a leap here) Are we so use to how our “lives speak” that we miss what God is doing in the here and now? Are we to focused on the important “work” that we do that we miss the heart of God for people? Are we so caught up in the tasks and being an organized and the hype of being a getter-done kind of person that we lose sight of the people God has called us to neighbor and love?
What message is your life delivering to a hurt, dying, and broken world?
Thanks for Listening,