I remember when my brother and I were younger our mom used to tell us “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone then don’t say anything at all”. As I’ve grown older I’ve not only learned how wise this theory is, I’ve also learned how difficult it can be.
A couple of weekends ago I found myself in this situation when I ran into a friend at the mall. As we were talking, she brought up a person that I am not a huge fan of and it was all that I could do not to tell her what I was really thinking. Thoughts swirled around in my head as I wanted to tell her how wrong she was about that person. I mean, how could she not see what that person is really like? Though my mind said otherwise, I held it all in and didn’t say a word. As I walked away, I was really pleased that I didn’t say anything to taint my friend’s view of this person.
While I knew that I made the right decision by keeping my mouth shut, I began reflecting on that day and on our conversation. Why did I feel like I needed to tell her about my experiences with that person? Why was it hard for me not to? Why did I feel like I had moved mountains afterwards when all I did was simply keep my mouth shut? We can wonder about these things all day long but the truth is that we are all sinners. We all say things and do things that we shouldn’t at times. Even if what we say may be true it doesn’t give us the right to talk about someone behind their back. Similarly, God doesn’t want us to speak negatively about ourselves and our life. We need to remember that the words we speak have power whether we realize it or not. Don’t just waste away this power condemning anything in your path, change the words you speak! As God’s children, we are all called to rise above our sinful nature and do the right thing: learn to control our tongues! The Bible gives us many examples of the importance of controlling your tongue:
“A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!”
-James 3:3-10 (courtesy of BibleGateway.com)
Like the verse says, this truly is scary but it doesn’t have to be that way. The great thing is that God realizes this and loves us anyway. He is a God of second chances, which means that even if we blew it yesterday, He has new opportunities for us today! Don’t walk around wishing you wouldn’t have said this or that, start fresh! God has given us a clean slate so let’s make the most of it!