I recently spent much of a day on hold with customer service — with two different companies. I pressed 2 and 3 and the pound sign and almost every other button on my phone as I was transferred back and forth.
Thankfully, the issues have been solved.
I admit that days like that test my patience. But I also remind myself of something important. The people with whom I speak on the phone are rarely the people who caused the problem. I need to be careful how I speak to them. I need to be gentle and kind.
That day, I was successful, but that has not always been the case. Too many times, I have fussed and complained at someone who has done nothing to earn my wrath. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe it was the fault of a third person. But in my frustration, I have done wrong to another.
The Bible says that ought not to be. In his brief letter, James wrote, “With the tongue we bless and we curse.” And then he made the most remarkable observation: “Brothers, it ought not to be so.”
Did you get that? James admits that we sometimes say both good and bad things, but then reminds us that we ought to do better than that. Throughout one chapter of his letter, he writes about controlling the tongue.
What a better world this would be if we could simply manage that. And yet, we find it hard.
Many of us have a ready answer when we say the wrong thing: “Well, that’s just the way I am. I tell it like it is.” But the fact of the matter is this: You don’t have to say everything that comes to your mind. There are times when you ought to bite your tongue.
There are at least two reasons for that. One, hurtful things simply need not be said. And two, you might be wrong. I know it’s a shocking thought, but you might have wrong information.
In our day and age of social media, many things that need to be left unsaid are said publicly and loudly. But we say things we should keep to ourselves in other ways, too. I would encourage you to take control of your words. They do matter. When we were small, we were told, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” That simply is not true. Words hurt, and they are often far more painful than sticks or stones could ever be.
Momma taught me a song. “Oh, be careful, little mouth, what you say.” Good advice for all of us.