At times words or actions motivated by intermittent emotions don’t always have pleasant endings. A biblical instance of this is seen in the life of Herod the Tetrarch. For it was his birthday and the hall used to for the event was filled with nobles who engaged in loud chatter and laughs, and each table was filled with the guest’s choice. The party was lively and the entertainments were provided by top performers but unlike the other announcements for previous performances, this next performance was made with honorifics that indicated royalty, for she was the daughter of Herodias and a significant performer.
As the young dancer gradually makes her way to the spotlight, surrounding chatters and laughs gradually fade away. All who are present are spellbound by the performance before them. And at the stop of the last beat, emotions run high and a wild applause is given to the young performer. Pleased with what he had seen, the king gives his word to the young girl who had pleased his heart, to give her whatever she delighted. Running in excitement to her mother, she gladly inquiries of her what to ask the king to grant unto her. Her mother voices her answer within the girl’s hearing and presenting her request before the king and his guests, she says, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist” – Matthew 14: 8.
At her request one can only but imagine the atmosphere in the hall, for she did not ask for more dresses or jewels but for the head of a man. The side chatter and awkward glances that followed at such a request must have carried some weight of shock, for even the king was caught off guard, for it was said that “the king was distressed, but because of his oath and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted” – Matthew 14: 10.
Though the king’s intention for the prophet was not good, for he had ulterior motives of his own. However, it was clear that at the moment he made that statement the intent was different. For it was after the young girl had made her request known, that he realized that his words had put him in a compromising situation. And though the king’s statement at that moment may be reasoned from the direction that he was just trying to please his step-daughter who made him happy, and that the request was something he never expected. It was still sort of overboard for him to make such a public statement of “a promise with an oath to give her whatever she asked”.
A reputable preacher who was invited to minister before a large crowd began his message with the following remarks “that some of the things he would say in that gathering might be out of emotion, and for that reason whoever was listening should screen what they heard and pick what ministered to them in the meeting.” Hearing such words from a man with much years of experience held so much significance to me, and from what he said, it was clear that we should be careful not to allow our words or actions to be driven by careless bursts of emotions.
For words are powerful, and if spoken carelessly can put one in a compromising situation. This I have been a victim of on several occasions. Words can heal or hurt, gather or scatter, build or tear down and more. Nevertheless, if one is to stay on the healthy side of the spectrum, discipline must be employed.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated certain things that if employed would enable us stay on the healthy side of the spectrum whenever we speak or take actions.
1. Study the word
When a professional wants to make a presentation before a potential client, he has to come in well prepared unless he could be trapped by his words. In preparing, he would have to do extensive research, and update his knowledge base on the subject matter and some more on his client’s interest. On the other hand, professionals who stubbornly refuse to update themselves find themselves left behind.
On a similar note Jesus was questioned a lot by the teachers of the law, with the intent of trapping Him by his words. However, on some certain occasions when they publicly asked some questions, He simply answered them by saying, “Haven’t you read …” – Matthew 12:3, 5; 21:31. For though these men were knowledgeable, they were kind of stubborn to understand what lay beyond the letters they had read.
Studying the word of God and filling our hearts with its words are important, for our hearts not only guides our words but actions as well.
2. Spend time in God’s presence
On a number of occasions it was stated that Jesus began the day in God’s presence, and sometimes during the day He withdrew from the crowd to spend time in God’s presence alone (Matthew 14: 23). The result of this fellowship was seen in his words when he taught the people, answered their questions, and also it was seen in his actions when He ministered to the needs of crowds and individuals.
Implementing these things is a gradual process, as well as a daily exercise. For if a person must be proficient at a certain skill, the individual must set out time to practice on a daily basis. So in order to evade compromising situations when words are spoken or actions are taken, it is necessary to spend time studying the word, as well as spend time in God’s presence.
Have a blessed week.