James 3:5a – So also, the tongue is a small thing, but what enormous damage it can do. (NLT)
Our words can hurt others, often unintentionally, but they hurt nevertheless. Some years ago, I returned to live for a while in my parental home in England. My mother and I had always had a close relationship, but there were still times when we would "get each other's back up" thinking that we knew better than the other. There were even times when, with the words we spoke, we could make the other feel that she was not needed!
I remember one such time — and here I have to admit to being the guilty party, obviously having made my mother feel somewhat rejected by me. Her words have stayed with me, for they were then, and have proven to be since, so true. She responded to whatever I had said or done with, "Enjoy me while you have me. I won't be here forever."
We reconciled and moved on, but I've thought of those words many times and have even shared them with friends who were having a "parent-or-other-person challenge". It was a transforming comment! I have tried very hard, since then, to hold my tongue, even when it was the very last thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to hurt back, as I had been hurt. I have also learned that such responses are unnecessarily unkind and irrevocably damaging to relationships. We can often be unaware that we have wounded somebody else with our words — wondering why they have distanced themselves from us. We need to gently confront the situation and ask what is wrong. We need to be wise.
Job 6:24 – All I want is a reasonable answer — then I will keep quiet. Tell me, what have I done wrong? (NLT)
John 7:33 – Jesus told them, "I will be here a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me." (NLT)
Also, in John 16, Jesus encouraged His followers to learn from Him while He was with them. They were to adhere to His advice and His Word because He would soon be taken from them and would then be unavailable to share His wisdom and teachings with them.
I carefully consider my words now — I would not speak to God in a rude or derogatory manner, and so, I choose to treat people in my life in a similar manner. I might not always succeed, but I am trying! I like to think that I am emulating Jesus! I hope that God sees my efforts in that light too.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, forgive the times when we hurt each other with our words or our actions. We are often unaware that we have wounded their spirits, and would have avoided doing so if we had chosen our words more carefully. Help us to speak wisely. May all that we say or do bring honour and glory to You. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.