Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "I've Got Peace Like A River"1 (Lyrics)
Ephesians 5:15-17 – So be careful how you live. Don't live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don't act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (NLT)
It was a few days before Christmas. I was running my little out-of-print book business when a young rocker whose band was usually on tour came in. He'd come home to see his folks. "Have you got a copy of Robert Heinlein's 'Time enough for love'?" he asked. "I want to give it to someone for Christmas."
I shook my head. It wasn't a Christian book, and I hadn't read it. As an out-of-print shop, there was also nowhere to order it. Books came in completely at random, one at a time. "But if I find it, I'll let you know," I said. He looked disappointed, but wished me a merry Christmas. When he opened my wreath-laden front door, it looked like he was stepping into a Christmas card. Snow was falling, streetlights were on, and shoppers were headed home with gifts.
As he left, I turned back to rummage around in a box of books that had just come in — and there was a paperback copy! I rushed back to the door and without thinking, bellowed down the street at his retreating back, "TIME ENOUGH FOR LOVE!"
"YES!" he yelled back, turning around and flinging open his arms as if to embrace me as he ran back. It was then that I realized how this must look: a tall, delightful, somewhat tattooed young man and a middle-aged woman alone in her shop. I had already been told that there was gossip about what I was really up to, since it seemed obvious to some folks that no one could make a living selling old books. The papers had just run a story about shops like mine used as fronts for illicit activities. In New York, the mob had a dress shop for several years with only a single dress on the premises.
I could see that sort of speculation on the faces of shoppers who had stopped in their tracks and watched as he reached my front door. "Suspicions confirmed" was written all over their faces. There seemed to be no point in another bellow about it being only a book title.
Impulsive ways can be very destructive to the example that we set as Christians. Many of us continue opening our mouths only to insert both feet. But God wants us to take a sacred pause, to think before we speak, and to ask for the Holy Spirit to guard our tongues. Our behaviour matters to the communities that we live in. Gossip can be deadly. Only God can set us free from those old impulses and compulsions that cause us to act in hurtful ways.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, grant us a patient thoughtfulness throughout our lives, so that in all things, we wait for Your guidance, not running out ahead of You as though we are still children of this world. Help our behaviour to reflect Your glory. Amen.