Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weapon safety

My ten-year-old son has a BB gun.  I bought it for him because I knew how much fun I had with mine when I was a kid.  There's another reason why I bought it for him.  When I was around ten, my dad bought me a 20 gage shotgun.  I was a little kid; the first time I fired the gun, the recoil knocked me down.  My dad ended up sawing a couple inches off the stock so that I could brace it against my shoulder.  You may wonder what kind of father would buy such a dangerous weapon for such a small child.  First of all, we lived in the country.  Being able to handle a gun was not only a rite of passage, it was a necessity.  Second of all, my dad used that gun to teach me responsibility.  There were very strict rules.  You don’t load your gun and cock it until you are ready to fire.  You never leave your gun loaded.  You never aim at anything unless you know what it is.  And you never, ever point the gun at anyone.  Dad showed me the proper way to hold the gun when I walked, so that if I tripped, I wouldn’t accidentally discharge it.  Once, my brother and I went hunting. When we got back, I left my gun laying out in the utility room.  When my dad found my gun laying out, still loaded, I was in serious trouble.  A gun is nothing to mess around with. 
Proverbs 18:21 tells us that our words are like a gun.  They have the power of life and death.  We can use words to bring hope, joy, encouragement, comfort, and any number of wonderful things.  There are people in this very room who have said encouraging things to me that I will cherish forever.  We can also use words to praise the name of our God.  And of course, the greatest use of words is when we share the gospel with someone.  But words can be a weapon, too.  Like a gun in the hands of an irresponsible person, words used carelessly can destroy so much.  Everyone here has been hurt by words in the past.  No matter who you are or what you are capable of in any other part of your life, you have the power to kill or heal, to build up or destroy, right behind your teeth.  It is an awesome responsibility that we all share to use our words carefully.  So how do we make sure that our words are a force for good instead of evil?  Not surprisingly, the book of Proverbs has much to say on this subject.  This Sunday, I'll continue my series from Proverbs, called "Being Good at Life," with a look at how God wants us to use our words. 

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