The Slandering TongueBecause I live in the Washington, D.C. area, and national politics are local politics, I get very tired of the constant stream of people denigrating one another's ideas, person and beliefs. So when I first read the title of this chapter I thought, "oh that's not one I do."
Then I read the rest of the chapter. Instead of focusing on "them" it encouraged me to focus on my sin in the area of slander. And oh so ouch.
Since I was a small child I have struggled with feeling inadequate, which produced jealousy of others' successes. If my mother complimented another person's child, I believed the subtext was, "you should be more like her." If my teacher held up someone else's paper, I thought to myself, "oh, that's not so great." If my brother excelled in something that I had struggled with, I attributed it to him receiving more love and attention from my parents. And so on. Unfortunately, this continued through school and into adulthood.
What is sad is that I have a very quick mind and regrettably, a quicker tongue. I have often been the opposite of James 1:19 (My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry) I have been slow to listen (if at all) and quick to speak, usually in a way that tried to diminish that other person so that I made myself feel better. Even as I admonished my children to not speak ill of classmates, I found myself speaking ill of those classmates' parents.
It is only in the last few years, after painful and searching conversations with my spouse and God, that I have started to grow in this area. There are times that I almost physically feel God's hand over my mouth.
Last night I had a board meeting for a local group I'm involved with. One member of the group was very intent on projecting and revisiting his opinion. I found myself a couple of times trying to interject but he raised his voice and ran me over. He wasn't denigrating a particular person, but we were all very intent on defining the "enemy" -- in this case the county officials who are slashing the budget of the libraries to nothing. What he wanted to say needed to be said (although once would have been sufficient) and this morning as I reflect on it, I am so grateful. God showed me exactly what I do to others when I head out "full steam ahead" without regard to the contents of my speech.
Search me Lord. Show me where the gift of a quick mind you gave me has been ill used and has brought you the opposite of glory. Forgive me for my hasty speech and thoughtless prattle. Help me today, one hour at a time, to say only positive, kind, and true things about other people, and only if they are words that you would have me speak. Amen.