We are often taught as children (or teach our own) that words cannot hurt us. Perhaps in a day and age where communication was limited, and walking away truly ended the conversation, this phrase held to be more true. But we live in a world of constant and immediate communication. As powerful as words can be in a face-to-face exchange or novel, our online, every day statements have gained that power without us even realizing it.
The important of communicating (written, spoken, shared) with gracious words has become more important in our interwoven, over-connected community. A rant that would have been previously shared with a trusted confident is now posted to Facebook, with little regard to who may actually be reading it. The seeming lack of autonomy over our posts, after all, we didn't say anything enables us to be more bold, more brash, more hurtful than we would in person. This lack of accountability enables us to comment on the posts of complete strangers with judgment. Because we have an opinion, we are entitled to share it.
Friends, I caution you to temper your words with a Proverb. Remember that gracious words are good for us, body and soul. And not just us, but those around us. We are given so much influence with our words, whether online or out and about. The young mother in the store does not need to be scolded for her children's behavior nor does the older man needed to be told why his political beliefs are wrong. The words we speak should nurture those around us.
This does not mean avoid the difficult conversations. I don't think anyone would accuse Dr. King of not nurturing those around him, despite making some feel uncomfortable. Nor would I accuse our own God's Son of speaking without grace despite how many He unsettled with is message. But we are called to speak kind words to those around us. Like the honey in the comb, we should slow ourselves down and savor our words before we speak them. Is this what God calls us to say in this situation? Are we speaking from a dark place, where those Seven Deadly Sins lie, a place of anger or perhaps envy? Or are we speaking from a place of light and love, filled with patience and temperance?
As we go forward into the week, try to speak with slow, sweet purpose, a purpose that will encourage those around us rather than tear them down.