A recurring theme in my life revolves around words. The older I get, the more I realize how important and powerful words are, yet they are taken so lightly…so carelessly…so casually. Jesus spoke of the seriousness of this subject in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” I am not trying to get into the depth of what was intended by Him in saying this, but I am instead simply focusing for a moment on the intensity of His statement…and the intended emphasis about guarding our tongue…
I’ve written before about the Jewish ideology regarding words and their power (see http://stirringsofthesoul.com/ssshhhh-listen/), so I won’t go into too much depth here regarding that subject except to emphasize how important our words are. God created the world. How did He do so…what I mean is what method did He use? Words. He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1). In the beginning of John’s Gospel, Jesus is referred to as the “Word” that “became flesh.” Once again…there’s a very deep contextual meaning here…but I simply want to focus on the overarching simplicity of the concept. In John 18, a band of soldiers comes to arrest Jesus and when He speaks they fall down. They get up and carry on with the arrest, but I find it intriguing that they were physically overpowered when He spoke.
As I’ve confessed before, in my life, I’ve had a tendency to spout off without thinking…much more than ANYONE should. I’ve had a proclivity for not carefully considering the impact of what I say…in short, I guess what I mean is that I don’t always tend to think before I speak. I truly cannot begin to tell you how many problems this has caused me in life…and how much I have hurt others, or offended others with this bad habit.
I’ve noticed that in our current culture, people tend not to think much at all before they speak (or type). We throw around statements, accusations, allegations, and commitments like dandelions on the wind. They simply go in all directions, both in a physical and a virtual (internet) context. We usually don’t mean to hurt or offend…but we also usually don’t think it through and evaluate the impact of every sentence we speak. Some may say, “That takes too much time…too much energy…to much thinking.” I would respond to that by saying that if we are too lazy to be considerate of the impacts of this very powerful force we wield…then we should not wield it. Imagine how much simpler our culture would be if those of us posting on Twitter, Facebook, and wherever else we post…took great amounts of time and energy to consider what we are getting ready to post as well as the impact it will have. Imagine if we didn’t post in anger or frustration…or malice…or deception…how could that little tweak to our communication help our current culture? Can you count how many celebrities have caused a major stir in the “blogosphere” by not seriously considering what they are getting ready to say? What if many of our major religious leaders took more time to stop and think about what they’re saying before they slam a political leader, or make some ridiculous prediction? It seems to me that the things most people used to write about in their diaries are now things that are posted on public media…and that’s very unwise…because a diary was a place for someone to write their own thoughts and on many occasions reason through them enough to see their errors…and therefore not speaking without strong consideration.
The more I consider this reality…the quieter I become…and the more I try to consider and think through things. What I’ve found out is this: the more I consider all sides of a situation…the less I feel like an “expert” about it. The more I consider something before I speak on it, the less I have to say about it. This is helping me in an area where I really need help…the area of humility. It’s hard to be arrogant while also being considerate. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not humble. I want to be…I really, really, REALLY do. But I’m way too cocky and egotistical for that yet. However, this one measure…as simple as it may sound…is a very, very powerful tool that God can and will use in our hearts and minds to help us mature in this way.
There are lots of situations in our nation right now regarding politics, government, religion, social issues, and media. There is also no shortage of opinions about these varying topics…and what I’ve found about the majority of those opinions is that they are usually not very well-informed or thought-through positions. It seems like all they are there to do is be “rabble-rousers.”
Maybe if we…individually…and few in number, decide to stop being a part of this problem…and have an effect on one or two other people…who in turn have the same effect on one or two others…maybe…just maybe…we can see a difference made.
Maybe then…we will speak serious words…which are also words that can be taken seriously.