This is advice I often give my children when their arguing (or “explaining” as they would put it) is only making things worse.
It is advice that I do not follow often enough.
My big sister forwarded me an email devotional the other day that spoke of the importance of using positive words, when talking about others. It really wasn’t the main point of the email…. Just a mention in the midst of a larger subject. But… Oh! The guilt! The conviction!
I suppose that this post is a bit of a confessional for me.
I, far too often, lose control of my words.
“Look how fat she is! At least I’m not THAT big.”
“Maybe he wouldn’t be such a little monster if he had better parents.”
“ Doesn’t that idiot know he’s being wasteful?”
“I wonder where that freak learned how to drive.”
“Did you hear what Mrs. Down-the-street did?”
“I can’t stand stupid people!”
Now… as I go over this list of things I say on a nearly daily basis, I’m first struck by the old adage, “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Someone may be saying any one of the above statements about me at any given moment.
But, more important, is this: God intends us to use our words to uplift, encourage, correct, teach, pray for, and generally show love toward our fellow human.
In Ephesians chapter 4 we find this:
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin… do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.
That is a tall order! “Do not let ANY unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”
I would like to say that I don’t let much unwholesome talk come out of my mouth (though I’m not even sure that’s true).
The Bible says, “any.”
If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say ANYTHING at all.
As if that weren’t enough, we are told to, “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Did you ever think about how completely you are forgiven? The Bible indicates that God forgives our shortcomings so completely that they are not just covered up… they are washed away. It’s as if they never happened! They are gone. Completely. Totally.
I don’t forgive like that.
I sort of let-it-go.
But I do NOT forget that it happened.
I have work to do.
Today, I will endeavor to be aware of which way my tongue wags.
The writers of the Bible speak on this subject a great deal.
Consider James 1:26,
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
Or how about Proverbs 21:23
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.
Just call me Calamity Jane.
There is this Proverb, which Handsome Hippie Hubby has been too kind to point out to me, though he may feel like it sometimes:
Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.
And 1 Peter 3:10
For whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
I really do enjoy good days.
And so I will work on this problem of my mouth moving faster than my brain. And I will pray for help because, Lord knows, I need it!
Enjoy this day, dear readers. And be aware of your speech, that others may enjoy it as well.
If you’d like to know more, here is a great reference for Bible verses that talk about talking.