Making Good Ripples or Know When To Quit

A couple of weeks ago I shared an article about Making Ripples. The writer made a good point that “if you strive to be loved by everyone you will end up being loved by no one”. Yesterday I used some examples of Not Knowing When to Quit to illustrate the lack of discernment I can have at times.

This has been a challenge I’ve been faced with a lot the last several months. It seems God is trying to show me something. All my thoughts seem to come down to the question of when would God consider it appropriate to make ripples and when would he consider it appropriate to know when to quit? I’ve gone to the word and want to share what I’m learning.

In case you’ve never visited BibleGateway it is an excellent source for reading the Bible in many translations. I like to read the NIV and then The Message, and sometimes the Amplified. It’s worth the time to read them (the links in this post go to NIV, to read other translations select them in the dropdown list at the top of the page and click the Update button).

Here’s the questions I’ve had over the last several months and the answers I’ve found:

Is it wrong to use cuss words? This is where it started. I actually asked a minister this question and he told me the answer is really no, that cuss words aren’t specifically adressed in the Bible, but “foolish talk” and “coarse joking” are addressed in Ephesians 5. But how do we define “foolish talk” and “coarse joking”? I mean it might seem obvious to a legalistic traditionalist but what about those of us who don’t care for the holier than thou crap? So that got me asking…

Where do you draw the line? This question lead me to 1 Peter 2:17 which eventually got me thinking that maybe proper respect is caring what offends someone. But what about the Making Ripples article? It is impossible to stand for anything and never offend someone. So I ask…

When should being offensive matter? A parable in Matthew 15:10-20 gave me some insight. So if anything in verse 19 applies to me it makes me “unclean”. At this point I knew I was guilty. I felt like I had heard from the Lord through conviction, so I wanted to seek wisdom and definitive instruction on the matter. Probably not a better way to do that than…

God, speak to me through your word. Proverbs is always a wonderful place for gaining wisdom and instruction that is sobering and challenging. Here’s the list of passages I came across that spoke to me in many ways.

Proverbs 2:11-15
Proverbs 4:23-25
Proverbs 8:7-9
Proverbs 8:12-14
Proverbs 10:30-32
Proverbs 14:2-4
Proverbs 16:27-29
Proverbs 17:19-21
Proverbs 18 entire chapter
Proverbs 19:1-3
Proverbs 30:32-35

This is probably only the tip of the iceburg of what I will find as I seek God’s guidance in my life to become the better person he intends for me to be. It has been a painful growing process and it probably always will be. I found myself guilty of going too far again this past weekend as I blurted out an inappropriate statement taking a line of humor too far. I’m still learning when to quit.

(It’s funny how I’ve literally been writing this very post over the process of several weeks, and then Perry posted this yesterday – I’ve certainly been miserable about all this so I’m getting it out).

What do I conclude about making ripples and knowing when to quit? As long as my beliefs are in line with God’s word I have to learn to only make ripples when my intentions are for something that matters, and I have to learn when to quit anything else.

…After already getting a comment on this post I have to add another scripture reference that was shared with me in the comment – thanks Joey. Romans 14 (the whole chapter) pretty much sums up exactly what I’m learning.

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