by Tammy Phillips
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverb 15:4 (NKJV)
Accessories defined her look. The hat, the jewelry, scarves, shoes, and handbag transformed any top clothes she wore into fashion model ready. I asked her if she was always fashionable. Her answered surprised me. She shared that when she was pregnant, her pastor approached her, his arms outstretched; she readied herself for his bear hug. While greeting her, he whispered, “Why do you always wear the same old clothes?” His words altered her breathing; she quickly walked away. Alternating between four dresses that were always cleaned and pressed, she wore what she had.
Later alone with God, she cried out, “I am your child. Please help me.” The assistance came immediately. One woman in the church surprised her with two dresses. So did another. Soon, she had several pretty dresses to wear. This was when her interest in accessorizing began. She learned she could alternate different pieces of clothing, adding some splash and look completely different each time she stepped into the church.
Pastor obviously did not THINK before he spoke. Many would argue that, since his words propelled my friend into fashion action, it was good that he talked to her. I am of the mind that he should have kept his comments to himself. The pain he caused was unnecessary. She expected Christian love from her pastor, not a petty, hurtful comment. The notion that our opinions and the truth are synonymous has always been amazing to me.
Once, during a youth activity, we asked several young ladies to squeeze toothpaste out of the small tubes they had each been given. Then, they were told to put all of the paste back into the containers through the same hole it came out of. Our competitive crew tried every trick to get the paste back in — toothpicks, both ends of spoons and screwdriver tips were among the items used. It took a good while for each participant to realize that she had been given an impossible task. Most of the toothpaste remained on the table, and the mess had to be cleaned up. Soap and paper towels took care of the toothpaste. However, neither is helpful when we have shot our mouths off and made a mess all over the hearer. Our participants learned to take care of what comes out of the small hole in their faces because once the words are out, they cannot be retrieved.
God’s Word admonishes us to THINK before we speak. The pain we sometimes cause when we do not think is, oftentimes, unnecessary. Mouth running affects relationships, stunts communication and breaks hearts. And for what reason? Because we cannot bear living without sharing our personal, unsolicited opinions? I do not believe the Pastor would have dropped dead that day if he did not whisper in his vulnerable member’s ear what he thought of her clothes.
Before we speak, let us asked these questions: Is this thoughtful (was consideration given)? Is this helpful (will this comment help them grow)? Is this inspirational (will their spirit be lifted)? Is this necessary (what will happen if you do not say it)? Is this kind? This last question reminds me of a saying I saw recently: We can be anything we want to be in this country. Choose to be Kind. Some of the synonyms for kind are compassionate, loving and considerate. A mark of a mature Christian is the control one’s mouth. We should THINK before we speak.