Be Careful What You Say

Whoever said, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” must have been deaf. Most of us know the lasting pain that comes from a cutting criticism or a personal attack. James 3:5 compares the hurt of the tongue to a fire that can destroy a forest.

Certainly not all verbal hurt is intentional. Recently someone pointed out how I had hurt them with a comment I made. Honestly, I did not remember the conversation and certainly had no intention of causing them pain. Yet, the fact was that I had hurt them. Criticism often comes from a person in deep personal pain themselves. Whatever our intentions, we all need to do a better job of guarding our speech and stopping the hurt. There is no place for gossip in the body of Christ.

Paul wrote the Ephesians these powerfully challenging words, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” The goal of the Christian is not to be silent, but to be a blessing. We seek to find ways to build up rather than tear down. Even the truth must be spoken in love.

My favorite song as a child had these words in its third verse, “Oh be careful little mouth what you say. There’s a Father up above looking down in tender love. Oh be careful little mouth what you say.” Let’s be more cautious with our words every day, and if we need to apologize, as I did to the person who came to me, then let’s apologize.

Don Loftis
via Calvert City church of Christ
Calvert City, KY

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