When I write stories, they become edited before I feel the words are just right. Oh, if only we could edit the words that come out of our mouths. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Open mouth, insert foot.” What a terrible feeling! For the person with the foot in their mouth and the other who was the recipient of the words that put it there.
About a month after giving birth to my second child, I was walking down an isle of a grocery store, when a sweet, older lady walked up to me, smiling, and asked when my baby was due. I envisioned one of those cartoon balloons over my head that said, “Well, the first one about 5 years ago, and the second 4 weeks ago.” But the lady was so sweet I couldn’t bring myself to be sarcastic, so I let the balloon pop. I told her the truth that I had just recently had the baby and I just hadn’t got back in shape yet. OOPS! Awkward moment! She didn’t mean any harm, she was a grandmotherly type who thought she had eyed a young pregnant girl and came to me with that grandmotherly twinkle in her eye.
What about words spoken in anger? I bet a lot of us have regretted words that we’ve said in anger, hurt feelings, with our impatience. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an edit machine in our brain that engaged before our mouth did?
In Matthew 12:36, Jesus says to us, “But I tell you that men (and women) will have to give an account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned.” He’s telling us what we say reveals what’s in our hearts. If we are believers, the Holy Spirit will convict us when we have used wrong words (in one way or another) and we can repent and be forgiven because of that incredible gift Jesus Christ gave us.
I think the “open mouth, insert foot” syndrome is not a deliberate act of sin, just carelessness. Since we don’t have an editing machine in our brain, I think we just need to be slower in our speech and sometimes it’s best to remain quiet. We are told in Proverbs 13:3, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 15:4 says, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” Such power in our mouths! I’m so glad God forgives the repentant sinner and will give us the strength to be self-controlled with our tongue.
There is a difference between a deceitful mouth and a careless one but both can hurt. If we are on the receiving end of a deceitful mouth, I find the best weapons of defense are prayer and forgiveness. If we are on the receiving line of a careless, foot in mouth that caused hurt, praying and forgiveness as well. If a comment is given as the sweet lady above gave, I find laughter is the best medicine. If we can laugh at ourselves, the world is so much brighter!
Proverbs tells us that the controlled tongue will think before speaking, knows when silence is best, and gives wise wisdom. I think in order to have this kind of tongue, a silent dialogue has to be going on continually with our Lord and being open to Him guiding us.
I believe we have an editor in our self after all. Will we use it (Him)?
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”