Did you ever say something and as soon as it’s out of your mouth, while the little word balloon is still hanging above your head, wish you could inhale it back in? This is a major cause of bad breath! I have a hunch that we all suffer from this malady. The Bible is full of warnings about what we speak.
The book of James pops to mind where he admonishes us to: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.
I remember a time in my life when I wished that if I could only have a dot in my eye – a little cross-shaped dot that I could see all the time, maybe then I would remember God when I speak. God is so good to me. I have to admit that as I have aged, the ability to keep my tongue from flapping so freely has abated some. That’s mostly because of the major repair work God has done to my character. But it doesn’t mean I am out of the woods. No, this week was a prime example of it. My intention was never to hurt someone with my words. But it would be helpful if I could think prior to opening my mouth whether the way I say the words would be hurtful.
I have a new friend in my life and we spend much time together due to unavoidable circumstances. I found my friends words to be constantly critical. I am such a soft hearted soul. Everything that was said I took personally. I found myself constantly defending myself. Finally, something happened that I thought was without error. I asked my new friend what she thought and the first words from her were something like, “Well some of it was good but…” I was so deflated by this that I blurted out, “If only once you would not find fault!”
I hurt my friends feelings by that. After all, I was taking this way too personally. When I looked into her eyes, I knew that my words had hurt her feelings also. I didn’t mean to hurt, but I did.
This is where being “slow to speak” would have been immensely helpful.
In Ecclesiastes there is a beautiful soliloquy about a time for every matter under heaven – a time to keep silence and even a time to speak. I am certain that there is a way to say whatever needs to be said, in a way that is helpful and not hurtful. I also think that sometimes it is unnecessary to speak. God is able to do much more without my “help”. I could have just prayed about it, depending on His character and loving-kindness to all those He created, to do abundantly more than all that I could ask or think.
God hasn’t “dotted my eye” yet, though sometimes I deserve it. We all live through many hurtful things. I am praying that the words I speak don’t have to be among them. I know it is in His will for that to be true.