My senior year in high school I won the lead in the school play, Arsenic and Old Lace. The plot of this black comedy focused on a family riddled by insanity. But, at first you don’t realize it. Everything appears idyllic and innocent. Then, as the story unravels, the audience discovers that the two sweet little old ladies who like to serve elderberry tea are actually poisoning their guests with a brew laced with arsenic and just a pinch of cyanide. In a climactic scene in Act 2, the murderous sisters describe their behavior as an act of charity to help lonely, poor, old men find peace. In this upside-down world, two women outwardly portrayed moral politeness by offering a warm brew in a pretty china cup. To them, the wicked potion was a gift.
How absurd! My teenage sensibilities did not understand the deeper meaning at the time. But looking back now, I see so much more of myself in this crazy story. I often feign politeness when I am trying to verbally push my moral agenda on others. I want to help others, the poor person who in my opinion seems so unhappy and alone. I know I am right. If only they would see it my way. I politely offer them my poisoned tea to drink.
I need to choose the flavor of my words more carefully. Sometimes, I brew my tea in the flesh and not the Spirit. This morning, I was reading in Proverbs and ran across this verse:
Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.
Proverbs 18:21, MSG
Q4U: Have you been every offered a “poisoned cup of verbal tea”? How do we avoid infecting our verbal brew?
My one-word focus for the year is “fruitilicious.” Find out what that means here.