Four Guidelines for Right Speech

Many of us are watching our words these days. These four guidelines for right speech from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh in “The Art of Communicating” are good for people of all faiths to consider.

  1. Tell the truth. Don’t lie or turn the truth upside down.
  2. Don’t exaggerate.
  3. Be consistent. This means no double-talk: speaking about something in one way to one person and in an opposite way to another for selfish or manipulative reasons.
  4. Use peaceful language. Don’t use insulting or violent words, cruel speech, verbal abuse or condemnation.

pink petals on pink surface

The Simple Demands of God

Yesterday I had a good morning. Once again when I recollect myself, I find the same simple demands of God: gentleness, humility, charity, interior simplicity. Nothing else is asked me. And suddenly I see clearly why these virtues are demanded. Because through them the soul becomes habitable for God and for one’s neighbor in an intimate and permanent way. They make a pleasant cell of it. Hardness and pride repel. Complexity disquiets. But humility and gentleness welcome, and simplicity reassures. These “passive” virtues have an eminently social character.

Raissa Maritain

different flowers shaped in word peace

Use Your Words

Please do not indulge in unkind words, in negative comments. Criticism, as you know, can only be useful when it is constructive. Comments can only be useful when they are friendly. So even from the point of view of effectiveness, I would suggest that unkind comments add to the problem. Unloving criticism makes the situation worse. It does not mean that we do not have to comment and suggest. Very often we have to. But it is the mental attitude with which you make the suggestion and the loving concern with which you put forward ideas, sometimes opposed to others, that make for effectiveness.

Eknath Easwaran
hand on grateful heart

Begin With a Thankful Spirit

Begin each day with a thankful spirit until it becomes a way of life. Start by focusing on the simple, the mundane … the air we breathe, the ability to serve others, the privilege of thinking about God. It is this spirit that raises us to live on a level above our circumstances rather than under them.

Darien Cooper, “The Beauty of Beholding God”

Anchored by Priorities

One piece of wise advice I’ve received came from a home management book: “Desperate Households” by Kathy Peel. She wrote:

Part of responding to the unexpected is learning to see situations for what they are, not what we imagine them to be.

You could stop and ask God for patience, wisdom and the ability to remain calm and not say anything you’ll regret later. We do ourselves and our families a favor when we’re anchored by our priorities and are able to wisely and calmly meet the inevitable crises we face day in and out.

Kathy Peel
Jesus, Mary and Martha

Advice to Martha

Today is the memorial for Martha of Bethany. She’s the woman best known for asking Jesus to tell her sister to get up off her rear end and help her. I think Martha is the patron saint for today’s busy working women.

Brother Lawrence is the patron saint of Christian mindfulness. Here’s some advice from him on getting things done that could have helped Martha:

We must carry out all of our actions with care and with wisdom, without the impetuosity and precipitancy (haste) of a distraught mind. It is necessary to work peacefully, tranquilly and lovingly with God, begging him to accept our work. And by this continual mindfulness of God, we shall crush the head of the devil and cause his weapons to fall from his hands.

Brother Lawrence

Jesus told Martha, as you know, that “only one thing was necessary” and her sister was already doing it. Thousands of stories have been told about this conversation. But we also need to remember that Martha understood the truth.

As she said to Jesus when he arrived after her brother Lazarus’ death, “I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Christian Mindfulness: Reflecting God’s Love

When that happens, I know it’s time for me to sit up and listen. It’s usually the Lord speaking.

This week I’ve had synchronicity around the idea of growing so close to the Lord that I can reflect His love to others. As Mother Teresa always said, we start with the people in front of us. Yes, pray for others. But also become aware that God may ask you to be the answer to their prayers.

A devotional I got from Renovare by Jonathan R. Bailey said it best:

Spiritual formation begins and ends with love. … The way of Christ is not about earning righteousness or self-development. It’s the total transformation of the human personality into the likeness of Jesus Christ: body, mind, heart and soul.

When the Spirit awakens us with his love, we come to see ourselves utterly known and loved by God. There’s nothing we can do to make him love us more, and there’s nothing we can do to make him love us less.

Jonathan R. Bailey, “The Eternal Journey”

God’s Answer to Arrogance

Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said: “Where were you when I founded the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its size? Surely you know? Who stretched out the measuring line for it? Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling bands? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves stop?

Job 38: 1, 4-5, 8-11

Living in Mindfulness of God’s Magnificence

First of all, my child, think magnificently of God. Magnify His providence. Adore His power. Pray to Him frequently and incessantly. Bear Him always in your mind. Teach your thoughts to reverence Him in every place for there is no place where He is not. Therefore, my child, fear and worship and love God. First and last, think magnificently of Him.

Paternus, “Advice to a Son”

Trust God One Crisis at a Time

Just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we also must learn to trust God one circumstance at a time.

Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings, but of my will. The truth we must believe is that God is sovereign. He carries out His own good purposes without ever being thwarted.

Our first priority in times of adversity is to honor and glorify God by trusting Him.

We tend to make our first priority the gaining of relief from our feelings of heartache, disappointment and frustration. This is a natural desire, and God has promised to give us grace sufficient for our trials and peace for our anxieties.

We honor God by choosing to trust Him when we don’t understand what He is doing or why He has allowed some circumstance.

Jerry Bridges, “Trusting God”