Thursday, March 16, 2023
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James 3:2-5 – Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. (NLT)

I learned a lesson the other day — don't throw around phrases that can hurt people. I don't mean the "sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me" kind of stuff (which really do hurt, by the way). I mean referring to people using words or phrases associated with disorders or diseases. My lesson was never to refer to another as "OCD" just because of something that they may have done. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic, long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, recurring thoughts, which become obsessions, and various forms of behaviour, which become compulsions. These obsessions and compulsions are repeated over and over again and can affect the quality of life of the person so afflicted.

Honesty has me confess that I referred to my wife as OCD for an activity that she was doing. Not five minutes later, a morning radio program had a story of the damage that was done to many people by using this phrase indiscriminately. The story of various peoples' lives was called The War Within: "These are the faces of OCD. They don't look any different on the outside. But inside, a daily war is waged for survival."

My apology to my wife was immediate and heartfelt.

The next time when we are about to make the mistake of using language loosely, let's ask for God's help so that our tongues will wait for our brains and no one will be hurt by careless labelling. Pray with me:

Prayer: God, sometimes when I feel these obsessions and compulsions in my life, I do not understand what I do, for what I want to do, I do not always do, but the things that I do not want to do, these I keep on doing. Help me to know the difference and to rely on You. Amen. (See Romans 7:15-20)

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the good reminder, Kenn.

    Thanks for your compassionate words regarding OCD.

    Thank you, Kenn. I’ve done that and know how harmful it is!

    Great advice. Sometimes our own tongues are our worst enemies. Perhaps Grandma’s advice, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” had a lot of good advice in it.

    Thank you, Kenneth, for sharing this instructive devotional with us. BTW my son has an OCD and schizophrenia diagnosis. His disease gets him into many awkward situations! Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

    Thanks Kenn for another of your “right on” submissions. Yes the tongue can so quickly and easily get us in trouble and we sure have to stop and think before we put it in action. Blessings for your thoughtful writings.

    Thanks, Kenn, for the heads up. It’s interesting how we’ve become more aware of other ‘phrases’ that can be hurtful and have refrained. Thanks for alerting us to the hurtful news that can be afflicted by careless or flippant use of terms such as OCD.

    A lesson for us all, I hate to admit. I know myself, I hadn’t thought of the pain in those who suffer from OCD along with other. Honestly, I didn’t really know the pain and confusion of the sufferer. Keep writing and teaching as God gives the words. Bless you for shining a light.

    Good morning Kenn,
    I also heard a show with talking about using mental illness terms inappropriately. The announcer mentioned that we would never use physical illness terms in this way so why would be use mental illness terms inappropriately. It definitely made me think and get a greater understanding of the difficulties of having a mental illness. In Ontario, we also have limited access to the help we need for mental illness. Thank you for emphasizing this concern. I agree that “names” can often hurt more than the “sticks and stones”.
    I join with you in your prayer for God’s help to think before I speak and to understand more of things I do not know. Blessings.

    Thanks, Kenn, for a wonderful reminder.

    Another great devotional, Kenn. Thanks. BiPolar is another one I hear joked about. They’re so tempting because they seem innocent and funny at the time, but neither kind or helpful. I find sarcasm fits into that same category. I am working at getting all of them out of speech, but I often mess up. Thank goodness for grace and second chances. I feel like I’m learning these lessons very late in life.
    Thanks again. Your devotionals are always welcome and refreshingly different.

    Thank you Mr. Stright for your contributions to the devotionals.
    Once again your message hit the nail on its head with the “OCD” devotional.
    Labels are of the Enemy and not of God; ultimately damaging and destructive to our Spirit, Mind, and Body — I learned this at the University of Godly Life.

    Just read this tonight.
    As usual, creative and thoughtful.

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