All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3: 7 – 8
I wonder how many of my hurtful words my kids remember me saying when they were young. The words that came out when I was tired, frustrated, upset over something that happened at school during that particular day, words that had power in them to wound, words that had nothing to do with them. Oh, how I wish I could take them back! All I can do is tell them, “I am so sorry and I surely didn’t mean them.”
Don’t we all have those times that we have said something in haste, with a little anger or sarcasm, using words that hurt, words that won’t or can’t be forgotten?
Isn’t it amazing what a small thing the tongue is, but what enormous damage it can do? Maybe we remember a time when we have said things about others in careless conversations, and those statements have gotten back to the person we said them about. What horror, shame, and regret we felt. Or can you remember when you heard something that someone had said about you? It hurt and it may have left scars.
Words can pierce like a dagger; they go deep. They don’t just bounce off of us and are forgotten. No matter how many times someone may say “I am sorry”, sometimes the wounds are still there. Words tend to stay embedded in our hearts and minds, and they can even change who we are, or who we are meant to be.
I read once that before you speak, you should consider the following: 1) Is it true? 2) Is it complete? (Do you know the whole story?) 3) Is it necessary? And 4) Is it kind?
Wow! If I would only remember those questions before I speak, especially the last one, ”Is it kind?” One careless word, one word spoken with harsh criticism, one arrogant, self-righteous or judging statement can set off a chain of events that can bring such sorrow and pain to the person spoken about and to the speaker. Words can damage relationships and cause problems far beyond the conversation, which is often even forgotten.
My very wise mom had so many good sayings when I was growing up, but all of them obviously didn’t resonate enough with me. Statements such as: “If you can’t say something good about someone, don’t say anything at all.” Or, “If someone does or says something hurtful, respond with kindness – kill ‘em with kindness”, she would say. Or “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” (unless we let them – easier said than done)
Good lessons, when we consider that God intends for our words to be used as instruments of praise, encouragement, and love. “The tongue is a restless evil” and hard to tame! May God help us to think before we speak and season our words when we do!
Dear God, help us to recognize the power of words and the harmful effect they can have on others, especially to those we love. Help us to remember to be kind, compassionate, and selective in our choice of words. Help us not to engage in gossip or hurtful conversations, but to speak with encouragement and love. Amen