I live in a little bedroom community outside of Nashville where folks from Michigan, Jersey, and New York live beside those of us who grew up on sweet tea and biscuits. The auto industry brought some of them here. For others it was the slower pace of life. And many more like the short commute into Nashville from a house they’d pay a lot more for in the city.
I’m still not used to their accents. They sound upset all the time, regardless of what it is they’re actually saying. “Will I see you at church tomorrow?” sounds like “You better be at church tomorrow!!!” to my southern ears. I’m learning to process words before tone.
But what I like about these outsiders is their sincerity. We southerners have a bad habit of being honey to a person’s face and vinegar behind their back. Flattery and smiles often mask our internal discontent and disdain.
I like knowing where I stand with these alien neighbors from the North. Never a doubt.
All this was on my mind this morning when I opened Psalms. Chapter 12 says…
1 Help, Lord, for no one is faithful anymore;
those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.
2 Everyone lies to their neighbor;
they flatter with their lips
but harbor deception in their hearts.
3 May the Lord silence all flattering lips
and every boastful tongue—
4 those who say,
“By our tongues we will prevail;
our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”
5 “Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan,
I will now arise,” says the Lord.
“I will protect them from those who malign them.”
6 And the words of the Lord are flawless,
like silver purified in a crucible,
like gold refined seven times.
7 You, Lord, will keep the needy safe
and will protect us forever from the wicked,
8 who freely strut about
when what is vile is honored by the human race.
Insincere flattery is a lie. And I’m a liar. I find myself keeping score in my head all day: If I fear I’ve been the least bit unfriendly with someone (or fear they my think so) I quickly heap on a syrupy compliment. Am I the only one trying to win the day with my “tongue” and “lips”?
As hard as I am on myself and the rest of the South this morning…truth is, God’s the only one consistent – doing and saying the same thing all day long. His true thoughts and feelings and desires match His words and actions.
And I want Him to be through me.