I was out the other day at one of our local shopping centers, and apparently the high school up the street must have just let out, as students flooded the grocery store and shops in the center. I happened to be walking behind a group of them and could hear bits and pieces of their jovial bantering and laughing back and forth. The conversation seemed normal as they walked on until one gasped, another said, “No Way,” and one, pushing away from her friends, stopped and with a very serious look on her face said, “Don’t be so mean.” They all stopped and huddled into a store, deep in dealing with whatever sparked the emotion. As I passed by, wondering what was said that evoked such a response, the reality of how mean our speech can be struck me.
It does seem that mean, meant-to-hurt words come easy these days. On TV we hear awful and hurtful words thrown back and forth by people who one day may lead this nation. On Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets, people readily spew their venom, taking no thought at how those mean words might affect another. Some say they are just telling the truth and how it’s taken is the receiver’s issue. Though a bit of that is true, in that we do need to seek to understand what people say to us and what is meant by what is said, we are, however responsible for what we say, and how we say it.
The Bible has a lot to say about our speech.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
The words ‘corrupting talk’ are words that are meant to tear down, inflict pain, or bring on hurt. These careless words are not the sometimes difficult words of a coach or parent or mentor, given out of obvious love, care, and for our benefit. We are to avoid mean-spirited words and seek words that edify, encourage, help, and heal.
Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
So we are to think about our words and seek to be kind, nice, and uplifting.
James 1:19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
This is a challenge because it’s easy when we are frustrated, angry, or unhappy to say mean and hurtful words. Jesus knew this well and said in both Matthew 12:34 and Luke 6:45 that the mouth speaks out that which fills the heart. Yes, there is a lot that happens in life that affects our heart, the center of our being. I know when I was younger and experienced the hurtful storm of a family blown apart by alcohol abuse and divorce, my heart was angry, and my speech was deplorable! But what changed my heart was a faith in Jesus. I truly experienced a complete heart change.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Now, sure, I wish I could say I was perfect and never said a mean thing, but that is not true, for I still need to keep my tongue in check. I need to think before I speak and be considerate with how my words will be received. I need to pray like this:
Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
The challenge is a good one…
1 Peter 3:9-11 9 Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; 11 let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.
To put in another way, don’t be so mean! Let’s be kind and careful with our words. Would you not rather people be blessed and encouraged by what you say, then hurt and discouraged? I know I am challenged.
Now, I wish I could say that Church is a place where there is not a single hurtful word uttered, but church is full of imperfect people, and flawed people make mistakes, saying mean and hurtful things. However church is a great place to hear the perfect truths of Jesus and encourage one another on to be better. So, if you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net .
Let’s be nice!
Seeking to be careful with words along with you,