Ansell: You can't take back words, so be careful with them
It’s an old youth pastor illustration, but it is true and it’s good. What you do is you take a tube of toothpaste and you squirt some toothpaste on a plate, and then you ask people to put the toothpaste back into the tube. You really can’t is the point, and so it is with our words, right?
I was reading in the Book of James this morning, and his comments on the power of the tongue are disturbing, and of course, like you, I have been on both sides. I have been called everything but a Christian, and I’ve called other people everything but a Christian as well. Neither makes me feel good, but if that’s true and it is, why do we continue down this road of hurt?
James the brother of Jesus says, “It only takes a spark, 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 (James 3:5 & 6).”
He goes on to write that the tongue is a “wanton killer” and he asks how can we bless God the Father with the same tongue we curse the very men and women He made in His image? “Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! … spring water doesn’t gush fresh water one day and brackish the next does it (James 3:10 & 11)?”
What’s going on with us that we allow this “small member” of the body to have so much control over ourselves and others? I think the remedy is found in taking responsibility, taking ownership, and acknowledging that we fail in the tongue department. I’m raising my hand right now, how about you?
Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so he is.” What God is saying is I get to choose what I think about and as Jesus says in Luke 6:45, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” What’s bouncing around in my core (heart). I need to change what I’m thinking about or how I’m thinking about people, circumstances and life - does that make sense? This is the road to recovery.
The Apostle Paul tells the Church at Philippi to think about the things that are, “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious - the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse (Philippians 4:8).” Can you say, “Game changer!” As we think so we are, kind of like you are what you eat. If we think in the negative, no wonder our words are negative.
I’m a fan of Ephesians 4:29, “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” We should strive to say things that build up and don’t tear down. Later we are told, “Make a clean break with all the cutting, backbiting, profane talk. (Ephesians 4:31).” I hope we all want to be the change we want in the world. If you speak a blessing on me I’ll speak a blessing on you. Deal? He asked me to ask you that.