I’ve always tried to be careful and conscious about what I post online, on this blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and so on. However, this morning I posted about being reprimanded when dropping off the kids for school, as they were taking too long to get out of the van.
The woman in line told me that if they were having trouble getting out of the car, I should pull up and around so the other cars don’t have to go around me. No sympathetic smile, (I was already frustrated with the kids for taking so long), no wording that would indicate that make it sound more like a suggestion than a command. So I was a little hurt. Yes, I know I’m too sensitive.
So I posted on Facebook that I’d been reprimanded in the pickup line for the kids being too slow, ending with what I thought was a humorous “Really?”
But then I started to get a lot of comments kinda of ragging on the person who talked to me. With each comment, I started to feel worse and worse. Was this what I’d wanted to happen? No. Was I still the cause of it? Yes. So I removed the post.
James, in his epistle describes how the tongue is impossible to tame. “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (James 3:7-10 ESV)
Even though I didn’t speak a word, I was still sinning in that I didn’t look at the situation in the best light. Maybe she didn’t smile because she was having a rough morning. Maybe someone else had complained against her for parents taking too long in drop-off and she felt she had to react to that. There are a thousand unknown variables that might affect the situation.
A good friend of mine, in teaching youth about the harmful effects of gossip and how you cannot retract what had been said, had the kids squirt toothpaste from a tube. She then asked them to try getting it back into the tube. Have you ever tried? It’s impossible! Even if you manage to get some of it back in the tube, you’re still left with. A big, sticky mess. So it is with our words.
With the Internet, we must be even more cautious. Words today spread with alarming speed. So what words are we spreading? Words that tear down and hurt others? Or words that build up and encourage?
James’ conclusion to chapter three may be applied to the intent behind our words. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:7-10, 16-18 ESV)
May God grant us the grace and patience to spread words of peace and love, sacrificing our own pride for the sake of the Gospel of Christ.