My cheeks flamed as yet another customer received a discount on a flat of flowers. To their credit, my father and grandmother said not a word. The pale, yellow petunia floating alone in a sea of deep blue pansies said it all. My “faster is better,” motto simply didn’t pay off with some of the work at my family’s greenhouse business.
Our late winter and early spring planting time called for all hands on deck. This meant that each day, after school during my teen years, I came home and transplanted with my grandmother. Her hands sped at a rate cultivated from years of practice. She could talk on the phone, take an order and keep planting, without error. Trying to move at her speed caused me to lose track of which tray of seedlings I should pull from. Thus, each Spring we’d wind up with at least a few flats featuring an odd plant out. Those flats grew exactly what I planted in them.
As a young woman, I unintentionally did the same thing in the supernatural realm. Much of the time, I spoke life and goodness to and about my church, co-workers and family. On occasions when I felt criticized or ostracized however, my mouth spit out words way too fast. I sowed wrong seed. Like the yellow petunia, which was a fine plant, the words I spoke were truth but they came out at the wrong times, to the wrong people with a wrong attitude. They didn’t belong where I planted them.
Here in the North Central states, May is a month for new planting and the re-emergence of things previously planted. I can’t help but think about God’s law of sowing and reaping. He established this law in the natural world, I think, to teach us kingdom truth. Anyone on the planet can understand that a seed sown produces one specific plant.
So, what kind of seed do we sow when we spout off? Here’s the dismal list I came up with:
Tarnished reputations in the greater community– When you share internal conflicts with outsiders, they now have a dim view of people they don’t know. They view your church, school, company, family or group of friends, through the filter of the negative comments you made in haste. First, it’s none of their business and we should not share. Second, if they ever do engage with this group or organization, they may view the people inside with suspicion and doubt. This is what the Bible calls an evil report. (Numbers 13:32) Third, they may also talk to other outsiders about how poorly you’ve been treated, and the bad seed just keeps spreading.
Tarnished reputations inside the group- Are you gossiping in the break room about who’s cattin’ around or not doing their job? Do you ever criticize Aunt Sue’s kids to Uncle Bob, or complain about your neighbor’s dog to another neighbor? Hey, I’m not pointing and scolding, I’m just listing some of the rotten seed I’ve sown. Maybe you too? What happens so often is that people’s opinions of one another become twisted because of careless, angry words.
Damaged relationships- Sometimes people find out about the crummy things you say about them to others. This absolutely does not resolve the original fire of conflict, it pours gasoline on it, honey. Now, there’s even more drama to work through.
Hindered prayers. “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11.25 NIV) When someone wrongs us, if we forgive them quickly, we don’t speak ugly about them. Snarky words usually spring from an unforgiving heart. There’s a clear implication here that when we don’t forgive, damage occurs between us and God. The communication lines become clogged.
Future judgement on ourselves- “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” (Matt. 7:1) Simple language which explains again that if you plant thorny thistle, you won’t be picking sunflowers.
What kinds of plants are going to be springing up in the soil of your life and others around you? Angry words can become wrong plants but also destructive invaders that can spread more rapidly than you can control. I am currently engaged in an epic war with hairy bittercress in my gardens and lawn. I think the seeds originated from some cheap mulch a few years ago and now this weed thinks it owns my yard. Destructive words can spread through a group of people, and take root, in much the same way.
The hurt and anger you feel after someone roughs you up with their words or behavior should be taken to God first. I poor out my heart freely to Him, knowing that his opinion of no one will change based on any of my words. He won’t lose sleep over my rants. Whatever I say to Him, stays with Him. I have found it to be true, over and over, that if I start with God I often end with God. It’s unusual for me nowadays to take my struggles with people to other people, but let me tell you, that did NOT used to be so.
In prayer, Bible study and meditation, God sorts me out. I can either trust Him to give me what I need to respect and work with someone or in a situation where I have no authority or give me words to resolve a conflict between me and another. I find that when I am tempted to bad mouth someone, its’ because there is junk in my heart that needs God’s grace and healing.