Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Taming My Tongue
I work with a fellow who suffered through a divorce a few years ago, and still hasn’t quite recovered. I know that in the depths of his hearthe is full of sadness, anger and confusion. I try to keep that in mind most of the time, because, quite frankly, he’s just become an ugly person. Insulting words spew from his lips daily. Complaints, demands, and cries of injustice have all become an integral part of his vocabulary.
Knowing his story, I can see Matthew 12:34-35 lived out in his life: “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” (NIV) He’s miserable and ugly inside, and it shows.
Face to face with him this week, he unloaded a barrage of verbal abuse on me. I simply let him speak, at which point he asked me, “Don’t you have a comeback or something?” To which I replied, “I’m not stooping to that level.”
Which was true for about three seconds. He blurted out something else rude, and I retaliated. I dredged up a mistake from his past and threw it right in his face. I felt vindicated for a moment. I spent the day reflecting on how awful he has become. “Can you believe those things he said to me?” I justified my behavior by comparing it to his.
The next morning when I read Matthew 12:37 I stopped right in my tracks: “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” (NIV)
I read it over and over, unable to get past it.
My mouth spoke hurtful words, just like his. I was just as guilty as he was. And that was not a fun truth to learn.
We choose our words. We have control over what we speak. Taming my tongue is one of my biggest struggles, but it is one battle that I can win! One way is to internalize God’s word so that when we find ourselves in a potentially nasty situation, we have the weapons we need to win.
I need to memorize that verse that jumped off the page at me. I need to be mindful that while I will be rewarded for the good words I use and the God messages that I share, I will also be condemned for the rotten ones that I use.
How are you doing with your words?