James really nails his audience when it comes to words. So, we talked about how our words have the ability to build others up or destroy them. Our words can be used to encourage or discourage. We challenged ourselves to really thing about the power of our words.
When James speaks about controlling our tongues, he’s not only implying that we shouldn’t swear. Too often, that’s what we narrow this down to…cursing…but it falls short. It’s a bigger issue than swearing. It’s about gossip, lying, boasting, bragging, slander, manipulating the facts, and so on.
However, to paint the picture that “taming” the tonuge is only about what we say also falls short. “Taming” the tongue is also about what we don’t say. There are times when we need to speak up, but we stay silent.
Recently, I drove by a church sign that said, “Unspoken words are never regretted.” I know the pastor of this particular church. I know what she is trying to imply. It’s the whole, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” thing. Too often, we speak words and immediately regret them.
However, I have to disagree with the sign. There have been numerous times in my life that I have regretted not saying something. We regret not telling someone we love them. We regret not telling someone we are sorry. We regret not telling someone we have forgiven them. We regret not speaking up for someone who is being abused, oppressed, victimized in some way. We regret not speaking up in defense of the Gospel when others are trashing our faith.
And, let’s be honest…it’s not only about the words we speak or don’t speak…it’s also about the words we type, text, e-mail…
There is a great deal of power in our words. We can use them to praise. We can use them to curse. We can regret words spoken and unspoken. So, maybe we can all just make an effort to think before we speak…to ask ourselves if what we’re about to say is true, necessary, or beneficial before we say it. How will you use your words today? To bless or to curse? To speak truth, love, and hope or to slander, gossip, and destroy?