“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” ~ James 3:10
The birth of our first child was a wonderful blessing, preceded by a horrible delivery experience. Being young and naive, we went into the hospital with mild contractions. Instead of sending me home to wait and let nature take its course, they started me on pitocin and off we went. When I wasn’t progressing as fast as they would like, they cranked me up to the highest dose…and then the only anesthesiologist (or anesthetist?) went off to do a Caesarian section (it was a small hospital). No epidural, no other pain meds offered, for hours. I cried and pleaded with my husband to just let me die. After twenty-four hours of laboring, when it was finally time to deliver our son, I was exhausted and cranky. Let’s just say the words from my mouth were not pleasing to the Lord. The delivery nurse commented on my words, and I spoke honestly, explaining that some were genuine cries to God, and some were just plain old swear words. I am ashamed to say that out of my mouth proceeded both blessing and cursing.
“When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven…
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.’ ” ~ Matthew 16:13-17, 21-23
In this passage of Matthew, young impetuous Peter speaks words from his heart. First we have the beautiful and familiar verse where he proclaims Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” In that simple statement, Peter declares Jesus is the promised Messiah, and that He is God. Jesus blessed him for it and told Peter that God Himself had revealed this truth to him. But wait, there’s more. When Jesus explained to His disciples what He must do – be mistreated, killed, and then raised from the dead – Peter “began to rebuke” Jesus.
The Greek word used here for “began” is archomai, which means “be the first to do, make a beginning”. Epitimaō is the Greek word translated as “to rebuke”, which means “to tax with fault, to admonish sharply”. But it also can mean “to show honor to”. Peter rushed in to be the first to admonish Jesus, but he pulled Him aside to do it, which I think we can take as a sign of honor. A private rebuke.
“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Did Peter mean to speak against “the things of God”? I don’t think so. But in his ignorance, he rushed in to speak up for his own heart’s desires, that Jesus would not have to suffer and die. Peter did not realize that God’s plan required that Jesus suffer and die. And be raised from the dead. He was not “mindful of the things of God”.
When we don’t align our hearts with God’s heart, and our will with God’s will, things come spewing out of our mouths and minds that ought not be so. I cringe when I think of how foolish I was, cursing and praying all at once. But as I have walked with God over the years and grown in His Word, my heart has aligned more closely with His heart, and my will with His will, through the power of the Holy Spirit. I still have a LONG way to grow, but day by day, step by step, God is teaching me and working in my life. I am more “mindful of the things of God”. (And the deliveries of our three younger kiddos were much more God-honoring, hallelujah!)
I would imagine Peter cringed when he thought of past mistakes in his own life. Yet as he walked with Jesus, listened to His words, and watched Him suffer and die and be raised again, Peter was growing and aligning his heart and his will with the heart and will of God. Look at the book of Acts. After the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, Peter became a mighty man of God, preaching Jesus to all those around him. Was he perfect? Nope. He was a sinner like you and me. But he gave his whole life to, and for, the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peter became “mindful of the things of God”.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer.” ~ Psalm 19:14