Do words ever come out of your mouth, and after – sometimes immediately after – you think, ‘I should not have said that…’?
Sometimes our words come out of control; we say inappropriate things whether a preschooler or the president. If it’s a preschooler we can laugh (while as parents we remind ourselves to work on them later). When it happens to the rest of us, it can be embarrassing or downright destructive.
The Bible describes this:
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.” (James 3:7-10 NIV)
I like that metaphor of taming animals. How often do we treat texts and tweets like baby goats in a petting zoo, when it may be more appropriate to think of them as creatures out of Jurassic Park? Last month, there were two incidents in as many weeks where individuals were gored by bison in our national parks (https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2019/07/29/bison-attack-teen-injured-theodore-roosevelt-national-park/1855539001/ and https://www.ktvq.com/news/local-news/2019/07/23/9-year-old-girl-gored-by-bison-in-yellowstone-national-park/), prompting some officials to re-release a PSA: ‘don’t pet the bison.’ Yet we begin and end relationships, gossip about or curse our friends, drop the “f-bomb” in a work meeting, and hear leaders of sovereign nations threatening nukes with as much aforethought as posting videos of kittens. With our words we can mend or destroy relationships, honor or humiliate peers, give acclaim or abuse.
This should not be.
Instead, where can you offer words of praise to God and others, to share knowledge and wisdom?
Instead of taking the Lord’s name in vain, lifting up our voices in worship?
Instead of lying (which includes leaving out pertinent details, stretching the truth, or just plain prevaricating), speaking simple truth? That would include saying 'I don't know.' Often.
In everything we say, make a place for grace.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17 NIV)