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During my childhood, the letters “SPF” were little more to me than a handful of Scrabble tiles. However, had they meant then what they do now, I might have escaped some scorchingly painful sunburns—the red, blistered, why-didn’t-I-come-inside kinds of burns that came once a summer to my fair skin. I needed a filter, and these days SPF 50 is my filter of choice, lots and often.

As grown-ups, we come to appreciate other filters. Each of these filters will become clogged with impurities, and we will need to clean or replace them, but in their prime, they serve us well. We use filters

  • For coffee grounds or tea leaves
  • For the conditioned air circulating through our homes
  • For the fuel in our automobiles
  • On our water faucets to purify our drinking water
  • On our internet connections to block offensive material

But what about the filter on our tongues?

We are not surprised when children blurt out unkind or confidential words. They don’t have much of a filter yet, but it is reasonable to think they will develop one. And we are not surprised when our aging friends and family begin to speak again without a filter, given the challenges of certain medical conditions. It is sad, but it is understandable.

But how tragic when we who fall between childhood and old age willingly speak through a filter clogged with the impurities of selfishness, thoughtlessness, or plain old-fashioned error. We may choose to “tell it like it is,” so “just deal with it.” We may exercise a sense of privilege-comes-with-age as we share unsolicited advice couched in ungracious words. We may lean hard on our own flawed opinions rather than on biblical wisdom. We may even share truth, but without tact, or correctness without compassion.

And who will be on the receiving end? Our grown children . . . or someone’s grown children—those we love the most, those we most want to encourage. That thought makes me cringe.

We need a filter, and my filter of choice is Ephesians 4:15: “let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]. Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, [even] Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).” (AMP)

Truth, yes, but truth wrapped up in love. We need to speak as mature and maturing believers in our Messiah.

When the filter on my words becomes clogged, I pray that my Lord will renew my compassion and give me a clear understanding of what is true, what is important, and what I can and should share.

By: Nancy Lohr

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