When I was in my twenties, I spent a lot of time with my single friends. We griped about our singleness, and we complained about the men in our church group. We droned on about guys who couldn’t lead, and we whined that no one asked us out. All of our conversations had the same negative themes. The more we talked, the more our moods changed from pleasant to sour.
In my thirties, I joined in conversations about the workplace. We complained about the long commute, the office temperature, our outdated computers, the broken copier, the minuscule Christmas bonus, and the workload.
Another decade met a mixture of criticism for everything, including fashion, the neighbors, gas prices, and even the Librarian’s bad breathe. To my chagrin, nothing was out of my mouth’s reach, and a proper complaint was always ready on my tongue.
As I continued to study God’s Word, an uneasiness grew in my heart after each conversation. I asked God to forgive me and to help me change. Then I read Proverbs 26:20 that says, “For lack of wood, the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down.” Convicted, I realized I fed my church family a potluck of discontentment. I weighed down hearts with nonsense instead of lifting them with the knowledge of God’s character.
I decided not to speak to anyone about my conviction and kept quiet to see if contentions would quiet down. As time passed, I noticed that my conversations were more pleasant, and focusing on issues that did not pertain to me, made for good chats. Months later, I appreciated that things changed, and the guilt of complaining disappeared.
However, behavior modification is not true repentance. Yes, I could stop whining, and I could find interesting things to talk about, but down deep inside, the desire to unload on others was still there. Why? Because I had failed to look at my sin the way God sees it.
Jerry Bridges says it well in his book, Sins We Accept, he says, “Sins of the tongue—such as gossip, sarcasm, and other unkind words to or about another person—can not thrive in the awareness that God hears every word we speak. The reason we sin with our tongues is because we are to some degree ungodly. We don’t think of living every moment of our lives in the presence of an all-seeing, all-hearing God.”
Practicing the presence of God is the realization that He is with you at all times. Think how you would act if Jesus stood next to you when we worked, read, watched TV and communicated with others.
So, let me challenge you today to take a Sticky Note and write the word GOD on it. Place it on your shirt and go about your day. I can guarantee you that at the end of daylight, you will have lived differently than if you did not paste the note to your lapel.
I tried this one time after reading Proverbs 3:3, which says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” I went to my jewelry box and found two similar necklaces. One represented truth, the other kindness. I wore them throughout the day, and sure enough, those attributes became prominent in my behavior. Thus, the simple act of posting a note on your chest to remind you that God is with you will change your life.
Over time, we will find comfort in God’s presence knowing that He is always available to call out to, and He will provide wisdom in times of need. God is also available to listen to your praise when you conquer sin, and begin to emulate His holiness.