2017 is right around the corner!! Incredible! With the New Year upon us, many people will be making their annual resolutions. These usually range from what we eat, drink, smoke, and wear…to the shape of our bodies and what we plan to do about it. With the vast multitude of resolutions that we have available, I would like to add one more for your consideration: What comes out of our mouth!
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts…With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers (and sisters) this should not be” (James 3).
Those words of wisdom from St. James tell us the importance of controlling what comes out of our mouths. Our words shape our whole lives, who we are and what others think of us. How we appear to others in the work place and in our communities is something that we should take very seriously. Often however, my own tongue is wagging before my brain ever kicks in.
All people would do well to have control over their tongues. If a person has no control over that area, it is difficult to trust them with other aspects. What comes to most people’s minds at this point is cursing. Certainly, this is very important as the Holy Scriptures clearly tell us in Colossians 3:8…”now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
Would you want to go to a doctor who said: “Stick out your @#&%#@ tongue, I want to take your @@#&%$#@ temperature” or “Listen you @#%$#@ @#&%$#@ you have the @#$&$#@ flu”. Most of us would question that doctor’s professionalism and his character (he might have the skills but he would still lose the patients, especially my family). So it is with each of us. Our worth, our professionalism, and even our Faith are often measured by what comes out of our mouths (for good or for bad).
But controlling one’s tongue goes far beyond cursing. How about what we say about other people? Saying something bad about someone or something might feel good for the moment. But, as we have all experienced, those words may just come back to bite us and that good feeling will be long gone. Many times we do not find out that something bad we said about someone has gotten back to them, but we can guess that it did by the broken relationship we experience.
This is a problem that has a remedy. As we read in Colossians 3:8, “you yourselves are to put off all these”…we are to do these things ourselves!! We simply need to begin saying good and positive things about another person or situation. If we don’t have good words to say then perhaps we would do well to be quiet. In the same manner that negative words breed negativity, so it is that positive words are very contagious. If one says: “It’s a great day…I love my job…I’m happy to be here…_______ is a great person”, others will be finding ways to say positive things as well.
Now you may live or work in a very tough environment, where you hear negative and even ugly things every day. It is so easy to want to answer back with the same type of words. Usually, this just escalates the situation. Consider these simple words from Holy Scripture: “a soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Over the many years in my work as a Chaplain, I had ample opportunity to truly test that proverb. I can tell you it does work; and it works very well. I would encourage you to test it out yourself the next time you run on to someone being ugly and spewing forth wrathful words. It is amazing just how well it works.
So in addition to your resolutions to eat less and exercise more, I would encourage you to add this matter of what comes out of your mouth to your list for 2017. One of the best things that any of us can resolve to do for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our work place is to speak words that are good and positive to those around us. Our words have the power to help make us be the very best people we can be.
May God bless you richly in 2017!!!