[forthright] Have You Put Up Your Fence Yet?

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From: "Forthright Magazine" <forthrightmag@...>
Date: Thu, 05 Jul 2007 14:42:03 -0300
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Today's columnist also publishes KneEmail. Check
it out: http://forthright.net/kneemail/


Have You Put Up Your Fence Yet?
by Mike Benson

A recent piece on the TV news caught my attention. 
It seems a small boy wondered from his father's 
watchful eye one morning while the two were 
visiting an uncle. The uncle kept an exotic cat--a 
400-pound Bengal tiger--in his back yard within 
the confines of a large fence. The youngster, 
unmindful of the danger, stuck his arm through one 
of the holes in the enclosure to pet the animal. 
The tiger bit the child's arm just short of his 
elbow and severed it from the rest of his body. 

The last thing that I heard from the media was 
that the appendage had been reattached via a 
nine-hour surgical operation, but that the 
youngster would never regain full use of it 

This certainly was a distressing story; it was 
troubling to hear that this four-year-old had 
suffered such a severe injury. But the incident 
reminded me of a vital, Bible truth: 
relationships--especially marriage 
relationships--require certain verbal "fences" 
or boundaries. These fences protect against 
unnecessary emotional injury; they provide a 
measure of safety and security to the union. 

No normal couple can live in a relationship as 
complex and challenging as marriage without 
arousing some strong feelings. These feelings 
ought to be expressed with the shared conviction 
that certain words and statements are not 
acceptable because they can render serious damage 
to the marriage. 

I hear the apostle Paul saying the same thing. 
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your 
mouth ... let all bitterness, wrath, anger, 
clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, 
will all malice" (Ephesians 4:29a, 31). 

Marriages need secure boundaries--they need 
fences. Some things you just don't do or say. You 
don't stick your arm through a fence to pet a 
tiger (no matter how tame or domesticated it's 
supposed to be), and you don't say purposely 
hurtful things to your spouse. Words can wound, 
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue" 
(Proverbs 18:21); they can cause permanent harm 
(Matthew 12:34-37; Proverbs 4:23-24; 6:16-19;
15:1; 16:32; 12:22; James 1:19; 3:2ff; Luke
19:22; Revelation 21:27). 

An old church hymn states,
  Angry words! O let them never
      From the tongue unbridled slip;
  May the heart's best impulse ever
     Check them ere they soil the lip.

  Any words are lightly spoken,
     Bitt'rest tho'ts are rashly stirred,
  Brightest links of life are broken
     By a single angry word.

Dear friend, have you put the fence up at your
house yet?  Think about it.

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