During a long telephone conversation yesterday, I listened to pessimism and negativity with patience and only a few attempts to turn it around. After getting off the phone, my attitude toward the person I talked to started to sound like his attitude toward everyone else. Since then, I’ve not said much, but have felt annoyed. Not only that, the more I think about it, the more distressed I become. Today’s devotional speaks to this with these words of David as he prayed.
I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse. My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue (Psalm 39:2–3).
“Mute and silent” is one thing, but musing seems to be equal to what I call stewing, stirring the pot full of thoughts but without accomplishing any results except that the fire gets hotter until I finally have to say something. Usually, if I speak to anyone else but God, what I say is not good.
In this psalm, David’s prayer could have asked God to deal with the “wicked in my presence” of whom he speaks of in verse one. Instead, he asks God to remind him of the brevity of his own life. He did not apply that idea on his enemies, but instead, he applied it to himself.
There is a connection between attitudes toward others and length of life for God uses this to remind me how often I say that life is too short to fret about the things I don’t like, and too short to spend it in conflict with others.
A few verses later, David expresses what I also know; I cannot do anything about the sins of others. I can only confess and repent of my own sins.
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. Deliver me from all my transgressions. Do not make me the scorn of the fool! I am mute; I do not open my mouth, for it is you who have done it. Remove your stroke from me; I am spent by the hostility of your hand. When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath! Selah (Psalm 39:7–11)
God does not want me to spend the day musing about the negativity of someone else, even if I don’t verbalize my complaining. I’m not to mentally or physically point my fingers. Instead, He wants me to deal with my own attitude, confessing it and asking God to remove it from me.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
God, I know that You are faithful and just. You will help me be the person You want me to be. I can also trust You to be faithful and just in the lives of those that irk me, but I dare not even pray about them and certainly must not speak to them until I first deal with my own sinful attitude.