It was said of Abba Ammoes that when he went to church, he did not allow his disciple to walk beside him but only at a certain distance; and if the latter came to ask him about his thoughts, he would move away from him as soon as he had replied, saying to him, ‘It is for fear that, after edifying words, irrelevant conversation should slip in, that I do not keep you with me.’
—-Sayings of the Desert
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.
One of the more important aspects of being a follower of Christ is focus. It is so easy to lose our focus or way when we are on the journey. All direction toward God is given by edifying words or experiences. More than once in my years as a pastor have I felt truly blessed by a worship experience only to have it ruined by the words of someone that I spoke with after the service. I know that we cannot always take the advice of the monk to keep our distance, but distance is something to consider.
Perhaps we should consider the possibility of departing more reverently from worship. It is the irrelevant conversation that occurs after worship that takes away from the blessings that God has given us. Sunday morning after worship is not a good time for calendar planning or financial decisions of the church. We must take time to absorb the words that God has given us through a worship experience. Worship is a time to get things “straight” with God and not with each other.
I know that the advice of the old monk from another time and another place may seem useless to you, but the whole idea of dwelling on edifying words is something that no one can oppose. Let us hold on to those edifying words and not spoil them with idle chatter. Paul calls on us to not be deceived by empty words, because they can harm your soul.
The call from the ancient desert monk is to take time to savor and digest the words of edification we are given each day. We need room for this to occur. We need time for this to occur. We need discipline for this to occur. Let us give each other room and time to allow God’s words and revelation to take root in our lives.
Let us live in the shadow of “Edifying Words.”
Lord, Words of edification are given to us from many sources. Let us take heed to the words we are given and not waste them with idle conversation, but allow these precious to seep into our souls. We are so tempted to pressured to be sociable that we miss the real revelation that you have in store for us. May I stop long enough for your word to become real, and refrain from polluting your words with my chatter.