Ever felt like you were going to explode because you were dying to tell someone something about what someone else did to you?
That was me. This morning.
I was armed and ready. I even thought I could start it out with “Girl, pray for me”...and then proceed to tell her my sob story. (Because using the word “pray” in the first sentence seems to make it justifiable.)
The story was a good one but I knew it would make the other person not look so good.
So…I held back. And I’m glad I did.
The temporary relief I may have found from “getting something off my chest” may have permanent ramifications and wouldn’t have done anyone any good.
- The person I talked to: now she would have a negative thought about this particular person and may even end up telling other people about it.
- The person I was talking about: I would have gone behind her back and caused her to look unfavorable in the eyes of the people around us.
- The person doing the talking (aka me): I know better
James 3:5-10 (MSG) It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it…With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on…
I am not against “sharing” for the sake of getting wise counsel but if we know there is no counsel to be gained, what is the point?
It’s ironic because I have heard that this particular person has said some unkind things about me…so, how would I be any different from her?
People have actually told me that they admire the fact that I don’t talk about other people. If I had made this one decision to vent in the heat of the moment and the top of my emotion – that would have tarnished this other person’s reputation…and mine.
As Christ followers, we are called to a higher standard. This same chapter in James reveals a hard but hopeful truth – it is HUMANLY impossible to tame the tongue but thankfully, we don’t have to rely on ourselves. When our hearts and our minds are submitted to God, it can drastically change what comes out of our mouth because what’s inside us has changed.
Also, being reminded of the fact that this person is made in the image of God, just like me…well, that helped me see her for who she really is…not who I’ve made her to be in my mind.
Interestingly, this passage in James was part of my morning devotional. I think God was trying to tell me something. And maybe He’s trying to tell you something too? Maybe?
If not, no problem. I’ll take this word for myself…and keep my sob story to myself.
I’m reminded of the words of the great sage – Smokey the Bear:
Only you can prevent forest fires…only you. ~Anu