Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Say What You Mean & Mean What You Say!

Have you ever said something to someone that was hurtful? Maybe you were trying to get a reaction from them, but you had no idea they would be devastated by your words. Once you realized how much you had hurt them, you tried to make them feel better by saying, “I’m sorry, I was only kidding with you!”

The problem with this is that you were not kidding. You meant the hurtful thing you said and then lied about it. Our words and actions cannot be erased by trying to convince others that we are “joking” with them. No matter how much we try to fix the problem or take away the sting of our words, the scar remains on the other person’s heart forever.

The Bible says that we should watch out for this kind of behavior. Proverbs 26:18-19 reads, Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, "I was only joking!" As Christians, we especially have an obligation to say what we mean and mean what we say.

A few weeks ago, a Bloomington, Minnesota man was driving down Highway 77 with a friend in the passenger seat. The passenger asked his friend to pull over on the bridge’s emergency lane. Apparently he had consumed too many beverages, and he needed to “go”.

He got out of the car, climbed to the side of the bridge, and then looked back at his friend who was waiting in the car. He then decided to play a little joke. He pretended to fall off the side of the bridge. Ironically, the action of pretending to fall, caused him to slip, and he actually fell off the 30-foot high bridge into the marshy area below.

This man was threatening to fall off the bridge, as a joke on his friend. He knew that his friend would be concerned and upset if he fell, so he played upon that fear. However, he got more than he bargained for when he slipped. The joke was no longer a joke.

As Christians, we should always speak the truth into each other’s lives. While there is certainly room in the life of the Christian for humor, finding it at the expense of someone else is unacceptable. If we say something, it should be honest and truthful. Let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37 NKJV)

We cannot count on what the advertising industry tells us about merchandise on the market. We have trouble believing what the politicians continue to promise. We certainly cannot believe most of what is passed around on the Internet. Unfortunately, we also know that our family and friends are subject to misleading us from time to time. Therefore, in this age of sarcasm, skepticism and falsehood, it is even more important for Christians to be the voice of integrity, encouragement, and honesty. Commit this passage from James to memory, and think of it the next time you speak to someone.

A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! 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, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. 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. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you? (James 3:3-12 The Message)

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