On my first day of eighth grade, I remember walking into my English class, ready to face the day before me, when I realized that I was seated next to some of my closest friends. How exciting! I kept turning around, telling the other students around me all about my Summer, my weekend plans, and whatever else came to my mind. I guess you could say that I was a social butterfly. That was, until the teacher called me out and made me write “I will not talk in English class” 100 times. Not only did I not want to write those sentences, I was embarrassed that I could not keep my mouth shut, and it was only the first day of school!
Our mouth gets us in a lot of trouble doesn’t it?
Yet, so many people put little to no thought into keeping their tongue under control. When people hurt us with their words, we are supposed to let it go in one ear and out the other. However, that is just not always possible.
Chances are you have been hurt by someone else’s words before. The idea that words cannot hurt you is simply not true. Even the Bible teaches that your tongue is “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)
Have you ever hurt someone else with your words? I want to tell you about a time that I did.
I was about 16 and I was faced with a choice. The choice was to either spread a rumor that I had heard about a friend, or not to spread that rumor. I had information that I knew was not true.
However, even if it had been true, it wouldn’t have been my information to share.
Unfortunately, I chose to betray my friend.
I shared the rumor with one classmate. I instantly felt guilty, but also a little good to “get back” at someone I was angry at. The next time I told the rumor to someone else, it was a little easier. Pretty soon, I was parading around with my little piece of information, telling it to anyone who would listen.
Of course my friend eventually heard that rumor about himself, and you can imagine the rest. He was hurt, and suddenly it didn’t feel so good to spread that lie.
I once heard someone say once that spreading a rumor is like taking a feather pillow, cutting it open, and walking down a busy highway shaking the feathers out of it. Should you decide you want to gather up those feathers, you might get some of them back into the pillow, but you will never get them all.
When you spread gossip, you can never take it back.
You may sometimes be able to smooth over the way you make someone feel, but not always. You will never be able to gather all the feathers.
James 3:5-10 warns us about the dangers of not watching what we say:
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity; so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beast, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Did your mother ever tell you to watch your mouth? If she did, she was right. Even the Bible instructs us to be very careful what we say to ourselves and others.
You can be the very reason your own prayers don’t get answered if you are speaking death to them. If you think it doesn’t matter what you say, think again.
If we are going to praise God with our mouth, then we should not use the same mouth to gossip about God’s other kids. After all, people are created in the likeness of God. If you speak against God’s creation, you are speaking against God.
Your words are just a reflection of what is in your heart. The Bible teaches us that whatever is inside of you will eventually spill out of your mouth. If there is ugliness inside, your words will be ugly. If you fill your heart with God’s ways and words, His words will be your words too. Your tongue is a mighty tool for either good or evil. Use it wisely.