I’m coming to the adult realization that if you have personally known me for any significant time at all, then I have probably hurt you in some way with my words (unintentionally I assure you).
In my attempts to appear witty, I can come off as rather snarky. I’m pretty sure people who first meet me have very little clue or context of how to take such poorly formed daggers. I know this because I’ve been bluntly told as much. I once had the opportunity to speak on the holiness of God (Isaiah 6) at my church during the Sunday morning service. One lady friend of the family, a passionate prayer warrior, came to me afterwards with positive feedback. She concluded her gratitude for the message with, “I didn’t know you had it in you…I always thought you were just a punk.” We laughed about it then, but I knew there was some truth in her words.
I wonder how many gospel barriers I’ve constructed with my sharp tongue. And I am proof positive the pithy nature of social media only exacerbates this problem for me.
Such an issue is just a sign of immaturity and undiscipline on my part. It probably comes out of a deep-seated desire to be liked and appear funny to others. To really want to contribute in some way to a given social situation or relationship. I know such an insatiable desire can be relentless and quite insensitive to the spiritual needs of others.
Christianity doesn’t need any Tosh.O impersonators.
Even worse, sometimes I get a twisted satisfaction from making others feel socially awkward. I’m finding what I would laugh at in the movies doesn’t necessarily need to translate into my real world interactions. In reality, I tear others down a little for the ungodly purpose of building myself up.
Fatherhood (and I hope the Holy Spirit) is toning down this natural disposition in me. I see the dire need my two young sons have within them for words of affirmation. Every “Great Job!”, “You’re strong!” “I think you’re awesome!” is soaked up by my three-year old, Josiah, like water into a sponge. Josiah’s moldable and sensitive little psyche is coming to terms with his father’s imperfect love for him, and as a result will set the foundation in his mind for his heavenly Father’s perfect love for him.
As Douglas Wilson says, “Father’s, you are never not speaking about the Heavenly Father to your children. You can never turn that responsibility off.”
With all my relationships, familial and otherwise, the shocking words of Proverbs 18:21 resonates with me:
“The power of life and death is in the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Word-Faith twistings aside, what a weighty and mysterious privilege we have with the very next words that may exit our mouths! If “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” and Matt 5:22 were considered before we uttered the next word our message would be more salty and our recipients would be more blessed. The sheer scope of the biblical exhortation regarding our words is staggering and convicting: John 3:10, Matthew 12:36, Eph 4:15, 29, Colossians 4:6 and more are all a formidable dropkick to the undisciplined wayward tongue.
If I had a manuscript of every word I spoke or typed throughout the day I’m afraid it would look less like those of a disciplined war-time soldier in battle, and more like those of peace time drunken sailor on leave.
Thank God for His grace that not only forgives the sinful speech, but also empowers the speaker to go on and speak better words of truth in love.
So again, I apologize to you if I have ever been too sharp or sarcastic in my conversation (face to face or screen to screen) with you. I’m learning slowly how to edify with words instead of using them as a destructive idle jest. Thank you for allowing me to speak a little in to your life through whatever medium we may interact.
Peace and grace always.