Cursing and Bitterness

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Romans 3:14 NLT

This time Paul quotes from Psalm 10:7, where we read, “Their mouths are full of cursing, lies, and threats. Trouble and evil are on the tips of their tongues”. The Greek version of this Psalm replaces “lies and threats” with “bitterness”. Psalm 10 is really part of an acrostic prayer or devotion that includes the previous Psalm, Psalm 9. Both were written by David, who filled the Book of Psalms with many comparisons between good and evil, between the God-followers and the God-deniers. 

But what makes mankind so willing to lapse into “cursing, lies, and threats”? The glib answer is sin. But underlying such sinful behaviour is a propensity to behave in a judgemental or critical way, starting with those round us in our families and communities. We take a negative view of anyone who is not behaving in a way that fits in with our own selfish value systems. And before we know it, we have lapsed into a mindset that builds and builds until our thoughts become angry. Our mental intentions include threats, and involve lies about the other person or people, without any foundation. And these thoughts then spill out in our conversations with others. Self-opinionated rants with little factual foundation pollute our speech, drawing others into our delusional behaviour. With the introduction of social media, “cursing, lies, and threats” have become far too common, with the offenders hiding behind anonymity to propagate their poison.

It wasn’t just David who pointed out the bad-mouthing carried out by sinful people. The Apostle James wrote in James 3:6, “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself“. Strong words indeed. About our tongues, he continues, “Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” (James 3:9-10). Paul wrote some wise words in Ephesians 4:29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them“.

But what about our thoughts? How do we stop ourselves embarking on a negative trail of wrong thoughts? Not an easy question to answer, particularly if we’re tired, or mentally unhealthy. Thankfully, God is gracious and loving, and His Spirit will gently guide us back onto the right paths. Perhaps the Psalmist, David, had the right idea. Back to Psalm 5:1-3, “O Lord, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly“.  The King James version of Psalm 5:1 – “Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my meditation“. Perhaps that is the answer. As we meditate on His Words, there will be no room for “cursing, lies, and threats”.

Dear Father God. We thank You again for Your love and grace. You look into our sinful minds and, through Jesus, just see righteousness. We are so grateful. Amen.

Life the Jesus Way

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you..” Psalms‬ ‭42:5-6‬a ‭NIVUK‬‬

Have you ever been “downcast”? In a place where your view of life is monochrome in a technicolour world? Where the negative and difficult issues of life are weighing heavily in your thoughts? Where even depression is affecting your mental health? The Psalmist who wrote these verses was himself not in a good place, with a downcast and disturbed soul. But he knew from his own experience of God that he needed to grab hold of three words – “remember”, “hope” and “praise”. The Psalmist had a personal relationship with God and through the experience of years of walking closely with Him he knew that by the application of these three words he would regain his mental stability and restore colour to his black and white world. Notice it is ok to be “downcast”. Life is like that. We can find ourselves in such a place frequently in life. I know a dear lady who even when recently given bad medical news, was able to remember, hope in and praise her wonderful Friend, altering her perspective for the future. She had found the key to living a life where circumstances were not going to affect her soul, no matter how bad the issues were.

There will be those who will say that I don’t know how bad their situation is. They will blame their upbringing, their mental health, their families and so on. They will say that not even God can lift them out of their circumstances. But there are Christians in North Korea, imprisoned, beaten, and tortured, but who can remain active in their faith, remembering, hoping in and praising their Saviour and their God. There is a lovely Christian man, Nick Vujicic, whose strap line has been, “I’ve no arms and legs – what’s your problem?” We all live in our own life bubbles, experiencing our own issues, facing into our own worlds, dealing with our own downcast souls. And God has provided all the resources we need through Jesus, who said, “I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full.” ‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬b ‭NIVUK‬‬. I saw a bumper sticker today, “One Life, Live It”. Let’s live the life God has given us the Jesus way, full of God-memories, full of God-hope, and full of God-praise.