You know the custom some churches have of asking the kids to come up during the service and doing a brief children’s sermon? Well in one of those churches the preacher was holding up a rather “loud” summer shirt as an object lesson and he told the kids someone said it was ugly and it should be thrown away. He said, “I’m having trouble forgiving the person who said those mean things. Do you think I should forgive that person?” A little six year old girl responded, “You should !” “But why? This person hurt my feelings?” replied the pastor, as he was about to bring the lesson to its point. Yet the little lady knocked him off his point for a bit when she shot back, “Because you’re married to her !!”
She may have been on point !! Still it is interesting that often the ones closest to us are the ones we inflict with more verbal damage. Whether its a spouse, a child, or a parent, or even a close friend it is our tendency to take out on them such assaults. Whether its that we feel safer that we can be ourselves or we’re not right with God and things easily annoy us. Then we aren’t handling life well and they are in the line of fire or its not an attack on them so much as it is perhaps a verbal barrage on someone else and we say things we know we really shouldn’t but think it’s fine around those close to me. We conveniently “forget” God always hears.
We’re not the only generation of believers to struggle with problem of the tongue. James devotes a good bit of his book to its remedy and David prayed the Lord would “set a watch” over his mouth (Ps.141:3) and Paul took time deal with a church that loved the Lord to correct the ills of improper speech practices with his Ephesian brethren. I find 4:30 to be both encouraging and enlightening, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Its enlightening in that we know this was a pretty good church yet they still struggled with saying things they shouldn’t. The Greek literally reads, “STOP grieving the Holy Spirit. . .” implying they were ! The context speaks about communication: v29, “Let no corrupt communication [“trash talk” is the original idea here] proceed out of your mouth. . . ” & v31 “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you with all malice.” So this tells me, I can grow in the Lord and be in a great church but I still have to wage war with a sinful bent of saying what I ought not say, I must prayerfully each day ask Him to help me say what is honoring to Him and if I can speak well to those closest to me, I can (by God’s grace) with anyone ! That’s encouraging. God doesn’t leave us alone about wrong speech nor does He leave us helpless to practicing right speech either !! The last verse in Eph.4 is very helpful, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven YOU.” We take our cue in treating others well (even in what and how we talk to and about them) from how well He has first treated us. So remember this, it will be put you in good stead in all you say and do towards others and please God immensely !!