A few chapters ago we discussed the chapter on anger in The Excellent Wife. Not too long after that, I came across this quote from Lilias Trotter:
I was at Fehira’s the other day. She was heavy and sorrowful. At last it came out that her husband had said some very insulting things about her and that they had been noised about and her good name blackened.
“Did you answer him back?” I asked.
“Without doubt I did!” was the answer. So we read about Him who, when He was reviled, reviled not again, and she prayed, “Lord, make my tongue quiet.”
Today I was there again and asked how things had been. Yes, her tongue had been kept quiet, she said, ‘but all is hot inside. The words stay in, because I asked God, but it is all hot.”
So we went a bit further on the road to holiness and she prayed, “Lord, Thou has made my tongue quiet. Make my heart quiet now.”
I love two things about this quote. First, I appreciate the fact that even though God kept her tongue quiet she still struggled with angry feelings. I admire Fehira for being honest with her friend. It also reminds me that God is not merely satisfied with externals. He wants our hearts, too. If we would have clean tongues, then let us pray for pure hearts.
Second, I love the picture of going “a bit further on the road to holiness.” We begin by praying for God to help us with the most obvious sins. Then, we move a bit further on the road and understand that our sinfulness is greater than we first realized. The road to holiness is long and narrow, with deep ditches on either side.
Just take it one prayerful step at a time.