Proverbs 10:19 “When words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (NIV)
I always seem to under-estimate the power and impact of the tongue. Once we say something, there is no taking it back. You can’t say to someone, ‘just ignore or forget that comment, I didn’t mean it’, and expect the consequences of what you said to fade away instantaneously. What comes out of our mouths has a massive affect on the well being of others, both negative and positive.
Emotional Scarring – Poor Self Esteem
Secondary school can be a very cruel place. If you want to see what negative affect words can have on people, just have a look at our school kids. Being mocked or teased can have a huge impact on our self-esteem and development. The consequences can even be fatal. We even see so-called adults putting others down for the sake of humour, popularity and self-recognition. The recipients may appear to laugh it off, but inside they weep in pain, as an old wound is recklessly torn open. When I was at school, I was the target of much emotional bullying. I remember being afraid to go near certain people because what they might say or tease me about. It left me with much emotional scarring and a very poor self esteem. Now I look back and realise the insecurity of those who teased me. However at the time it was like a battle ring of emotional turmoil. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
“I must learn to … shut my mouth more…”
We don’t have the liberty of just blurting out what we want if we expect to encourage and build one another up. We don’t know the struggles and insecurities others may have, so we must exercise self-control and wisdom in what we say. This is an area where I have struggled in greatly. I tend to open my big mouth too quickly. When I recognise myself speaking too readily during a conversation, I must learn to consciously shut my mouth more, and concentrate on what the other person is saying so I better know what to say and what not to say. That could make all the difference in encouraging that person to draw closer to Jesus, no matter where they are in their relationship with Him. Often it is better to say nothing, than say the wrong thing.
How do we use our tongues? Do we build others up, or cut them down for the sake of getting a laugh? To have an innocent chuckle at a funny mishap is one thing, but to attack someone’s character or self-image for the sake of a laugh is something very different. Do our words compromise Christ’s work in our lives, our witness to others or even their relationship with Him? We must be discerning as to where people are at in their relationship with Jesus, and speak appropriately. Be quicker to listen than speak, so that we get all the facts. Let’s be recognised for building others up and not cutting them down. Let’s stand up against those who gossip behind others’ backs, to protect their character instead of allowing it to be assassinated.
May the words that come out of our mouths bring healing to this sick world. Psalm 19:14