I watched a stunning conversation unfold on Twitter this weekend, wherein an individual asked a simple question of another, and the person responded with a tirade that would make a sailor blush. (with all due respect to sailors) Both are public figures.
I don’t know the background – I don’t need to. Here’s what I know: one individual was professional in their approach, the other immediately took a dive right to the bottom of the gutter.
Who did that hurt?
While it probably didn’t feel pleasant to be on the receiving end of the name calling, I can tell you who it didn’t hurt.
We’ve all touted the “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” mantra. This statement couldn’t be more untrue.
Words are like daggers – they cut deep. The damage can’t be undone.
“A fool cannot hold his tongue.” — Plutarch
Scripture is full of verses that talk about being cautious with our words, but James 3:8 hits the nail on the head — “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (KJV)
I’ve not only been on the receiving end of such poison – I’m sorry to say I’m guilty of giving it. As much as I wish I could take back the hurtful words I’ve spoken in moments of anger, I can’t…and I’ll have to live with those consequences for the rest of my life.
“The tongue has no bones but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.” — Anonymous
We want to be right. We want to feel justified. And often, we do most certainly have a right to be angry! But in the example I gave at the beginning, right or wrong, the individual who responded so viciously lost the respect of many with just one 140 character tweet. Imagine how much more damage we do when such things are said in person to the people we love?
Was it worth it? I don’t know. But the person claims to be a Christian.
As a believer, I have a choice. I can use my words to encourage or destroy — “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21. In this example, not responding would’ve been a better choice.
How often do we react immediately out of anger? Easy to do, isn’t it?
This week, as we approach Christmas, and spend a great deal of time with family members who tend to push all the buttons…let’s choose kindness, or silence. Let’s use words that are life-giving, filled with gratitude and praise — always remembering Who we represent.