He spoke before he thought, and the damage was done. His words were hateful, hurtful and ruined a beautiful relationship. There was no physical contact nor anything to see, but the deep-down-inside pain that was dished out is indescribable. It was an instantaneous verbal assault that leaves permanent scars. Most of us can identify with such an incident, perhaps from both sides of the issue. If we could only get those words back that were spoken in haste.
Of course, we cannot. They are forever embedded in the memory of the object of our momentary thoughtlessness. Apologies may be offered and fences might be mended, but it will never be the same again. It should not surprise us that words pack such a punch. God used them to put the creation into a functional form, and ours are potent, too. Scripture clearly tells us to use them carefully.
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person (Colossians 4:6).” We do not live in an insulated environment. It would be nice if we did, but we are surrounded by a culture that is increasingly hostile to the Lord. A sign recently displayed in one of the protests read, “Keep God out of California.” Unfortunately, it is a growing sentiment in our nation, but we cannot sink to their level. We must prepare our minds to control our speech and meet their fiery rhetoric with gracious words.
It is particularly important to speak graciously to our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are blessed to be in the family of God, and that should influence everything that we do including the way we talk. As we study the instructions that are given to His church, we are guided into the beliefs we ought to hold and the behavior that we must practice. The speech of His children is not an insignificant sidenote but a core issue.
It is characterized not only by content but also by presentation. It must always be truthful. Lies originate with the devil and have no place among the saints. The church is the pillar and support of the truth and we must never deviate from that, but there is also the manner in which that truth is delivered. “…speaking the truth in love…(Ephesians 4:15).” Effective communication involves more than just words. Yes, they are critically important and we must present them in a loving, gracious way.
Tensions have escalated and dragged voices with them. It appears to be a competition of decibels; crank them up to win the argument. Ours must be different. We will not outshout them. We cannot compete by their rules, nor do we want to. Our goal is not the same as theirs. Their salvation is our objective. That is what the Lord wants. We should want that, too.