Thumper the Stoke Spreader

Have you ever heard something that didn’t sit well in your spirit? Did you do anything about it? Did you judge the source of the statement? Did you gossip about it? I admit I’ve done all of the above—without even knowing that I was speaking toxicity over people's lives. 

Yesterday I made a few comments about some people, and those comments spoke death instead of life. I didn’t even realize what I was doing, and when I was confronted by Julie, I rather proudly justified my arrogant behavior. But honestly, in an attempt to uplift one person, I’d successfully brought down an entire group of 20—and for what?

So often I refer to one of my favorite Disney movie scenes. The one when Thumper negatively remarks about newborn Bambi’s ability to walk. “He doesn’t walk very well does he?” Thumper’s mother reprimands him and asks him what his father told him that very morning. He guiltily replies, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice... don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Hear my conviction today.

All of us are like Bambi—newly born and wobbly. So who are we to call out another person’s inability to “walk” well? God challenged me yesterday to remove the plank out of my eye before I inform someone else about the splinter in his.

Lately I’ve been asking God how my life should tangibly contradict the ways of this world. Jesus Christ has done such a significant work in and through me, and I don’t want to merely say, “I’m a follower of Christ.” I want to be a follower of Christ.

Two days ago I went down to my new hangout spot—Remedy, an awesome coffee shop  in Knoxville’s Old City. It’s owned by a sterling couple who loves the Lord, and its atmosphere very naturally stimulates good community and God-talk.

Julie had gone to a yoga class, so I was left alone to sip my latte. But my quiet time ended prematurely because I (unsurprisingly) struck up a conversation with a guy sitting across the way from me. Luckily, Trey was studying a thick book on supply chain management, so of course, he was keen to chat. I’m pretty sure he received the interruption as a blessing. 

Trey and I talked for almost an hour, sharing bits of our stories and about how God had taken each of us from a place of brokenness to a place of redemption. At one point Trey said something that really resonated with me. (Unfortunately he couldn’t tell me who said it first.) It went a little something like this, “Preach the Gospel wherever you are, as often as you can. Use words when necessary.”

That line got me thinking. Am I living as much as I'm speaking? 

It’s easy to talk the talk... but to walk the walk takes things to a whole new level. Amen? I’m learning to embrace my limits, to depend more on the Lord’s guidance. I’d rather live as a humbled sinner who celebrates his dependence on Christ than as a man who chooses to lord over his own life. All I could say to that man is, “Good luck. I tried it and failed.” 

God never lets us down. And when we do fall (as we all do), He has this cool way of redeeming the situation for the good of those who love Him. So why shouldn’t we at the very least try to live as much as we speak? In other words—let’s go for it. 

Here are a few things to consider as we do:

  1. Grace. Live a life that displays the grace you have been freely given.
  2. Freedom. Take the pressure off yourself to perform, to carry the weight of the world. Christ set us free, and we must choose to walk in that freedom.
  3. Planks. Remember your planks, then take them to the cross and humbly submit yourself to Christ and to others.
  4. Words. Think about the words you speak. What is the heart behind them and how will they affect the lives of others?

Oh, and remember—"If you can’t say somethin’ nice... don’t say nothin’ at all."

Heart to God.
Spread the Stoke.

Tony