I came across an interesting text in the Bible yesterday: "As you harvest your crops, bring the very best of the first harvest to the house of the LORD your God. You must not cook a young goat in its mother's milk." (Ex. 23:19 NLT).

Because this section of Exodus speaks of bringing the first fruits of your labours to the Lord, this admonition to not cook a baby goat in its mother's milk seems to be completely out of context. It's enough to make you scratch your head and go, "What???"

Of course this entire section in Exodus 23 outlines parts of the Mosaic law, which we know was done away with at the cross (See 2 Cor. 3). Paul teaches us that under the New Covenant, everything is permitted (though perhaps not always beneficial...See 1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23). So why should we pay attention to this text at all?

We pay attention to it, because of 2 Tim. 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives." (NLT). This means that everything in the Bible, including these references from the Mosaic law, is beneficial.

We also see that the now-non-applicable Mosaic laws are often used in the New Testament as illustrations to teach very applicable concepts. We see Jesus doing so in His Sermon on the Mount (See Matt. 5), and when Paul is teaching that those who work for the Lord should be paid, he references another interesting law from Deut. 25:4: "You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain." (See Paul's statement in 2 Timothy 5:18). Therefore, this verse that prohibits cooking a young goat in its mother's milk must have meaning for us today.

But what?

Let's remember that a mother's milk is something that is meant to make a baby grow and prosper, and when the kid is boiled in its mother's milk, it is, in essence, being destroyed by something that was meant to give it life and make it prosper...

This all makes me think about my tongue...

I can do so much good with my tongue. I can build people up, I can praise God, I can lead others to Christ, I can encourage and bless...But instead, I so often use my tongue to tear people down, to nag, to fuss, to complain, to gossip...

The Apostle James speaks to us about this concept: "People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!" (James 3:7-10 NLT).

What harm can mere words bring?

Here are a few of the thousands of examples:

I can think of so many times when I've used my words to praise and encourage; but then I've said one negative thing, and the person I'm speaking to just crumbles.

I may be feeling happy and positive, but when I'm around someone who complains, it doesn't take long for their depressive spirit to completely overtake my joy.

My husband may be happily helping me, say for example, with the dishes or the house cleaning; but the minute I start pointing out the things he isn't cleaning well enough, he tends to become depressed, he stops trying as hard, and he is even tempted to stop helping me altogether.

I may have nothing but good to say about someone; then someone else begins to gossip about that person, and it doesn't take long for me to begin to see the bad in that same person whose praise I was singing only moments earlier.

Or if tell someone something judgmental about someone else, even if what I said is completely true (which it may not be, for I may not have heard/understood it right), the person I am talking to begins to have negative feelings towards the one I gossiped about.

I could go on, but the point is, when we tear someone apart with our harsh words, we are using something meant for good against them. We are, in essence, cooking "the young goat in its mother's milk".

Let's not "cook a young goat in its mother's milk" by tearing them down with our words. Instead, join me in my heartfelt prayer:

Father, help me to "not cook a young goat in its mother's milk" by tearing people apart with my tongue. Help me, instead, to use my words to build people up, to bless and encourage, so that those around me may grow and blossom, and that Your name may be glorified. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

In His love,
Lyn

Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.