My mouth has got me into trouble a few times recently, and not just my mouth. It has also been my written words and my facial expressions as well. My words have not been as carefully chosen as they should be. I have offended, and worse, hurt people I love dearly, and whom God loves. An exasperated look, a demeaning comment, a flippant tone. Apparently, I can be opinionated and it does not always serve me well...or others. I say apparently because of course, I appreciate my own good intentions. I give myself the full measure of grace. I wonder how often I neglect to extend this to others.
Whether I am writing a letter, commenting on social media, or speaking face to face, my goal needs to be the encouragement of others. I may have honestly had good intentions, but when someone is hurt, I am not the one who has the right to decide whether or not I am justified in my actions and words. My rights no longer matter if I have needlessly injured someone. Instead, I must seek forgiveness.
As I dress in the morning, I remind myself to allow the Spirit to clothe me appropriately. Holy Spirit, dress me in humility and goodness.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
He will help me relinquish snappy comebacks, premature, knee-jerk reactions, a poorly-worded statement. I am grateful that the following verse reads, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if anyone has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13). I am humbled that I have already been given the benefit of the doubt––so much grace––from those I love.
As I strive to do better, to be more Christ-like, I understand there is a difference between words that are acceptable and words that are healing, and nurturing.
“Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24.)
What a difference there can be between words that are justified and words that are gracious! Even in difficulty, may our words always be gracious. Even in disagreement, may they always bring healing. Surely, our words and lives help to sharpen, soften and strengthen one another. We all hurt, and honestly, more than being credited with a pithy statement, I would choose instead to walk alongside someone. What greater joy would there be than to have traveled the long journey with them and triumphantly accompany one another into the presence of the Father?