Matthew 12:36 – But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. (KJV)
I have worked with teens for the last several years, and one of the things that bothers me is the careless way they often speak to each other. I have developed a couple of short workshops to show, in a hands-on, visible way, how our words affect others. My favourite one is called "Do Your Words Raise People Up or Weigh People Down?" When I was younger, I heard a speaker who said that once you have spoken, what has been said can never be taken back, and that whoever you were speaking to may forgive you your unkind words, but they would never forget. That is a powerful thought: forgiven, but not forgotten.
Lately, it has shown up in my life that I am not as careful with my words as I thought I was. During Vacation Bible School this past summer, my four-year-old Isaac lay down on the floor and refused to sing or do the actions to the songs. When asked why, he said, "I am not a singing and dancing guy."
That is almost a direct quote from me. The day before, he was trying hard to do the actions and sing along. Like me, his gift is in the enthusiasm he brings, not the actual singing, and he must have overheard me say to someone that he was not really a singing and dancing guy.
Oh, my heart, that my careless words should take the joy out of singing for him. I had to take him aside and tell him I had made a huge mistake, that he was a great singing and dancing guy. He has since recovered from this, but it was a wake-up call for me about taking care when I speak, even when I think others are not listening.
Jesus always took care with the words He used with people. His words shared love and wisdom, never gossip or malice. They brought hope and encouragement, never insults or put-downs.
Prayer: Father God, we pray for Your help in guarding our tongues so we utter words of hope and encouragement. We pray that we will not use our words in a careless or thoughtless way that may wound the people around us, so that by our words, people will know we are Christians. Amen.