Have you ever said anything and the moment that it came out of your mouth you knew it was not the right thing? It might have been the mood that you were in, and that mood was reflected in your voice. It might have been that you were not thinking about something else when you were talking and what you said came out all wrong. You might have intended to be funny but the other person did not take it that way and as soon as you got through saying what you said, you knew that you had said the wrong thing or in the wrong way.
Our children sing a song in Bible class and it has these words, “be careful little mouth what you say, be careful little mouth what you say, there’s a Father up above looking down with tender love, be careful little mouth what you say.” There are other verses that are just as important, but for this case we are talking about our words.
We can offend someone without knowing it by the way we answer them. We can be short with an answer. That answer can be the right answer but just the tone and the spirit of the voice can be wrong. Proverbs 15:1 states, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Maybe we need to engage the mind and think before we open our mouths. Proverbs tells of a virtuous woman that her price is far above rubies. Yet notice how she speaks, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). This might be way James tell us, “Wherefore, by beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Oh that we would follow the truths that are stated within that passage!
Jesus had been accused of a lot of things during his time on earth; this was all done by the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and there were others. In one setting there was brought unto him one possessed with a devil. This man was blind, and dumb, (he could not speak) because in the same verse it says that “the blind and dumb both spake and saw” (Matthew 12:22). The next verse tells that the people were discussing who Jesus was and asked if Jesus was the son of David? The Pharisees called Jesus a devil. Jesus then explains why this would not be so. If a person would think just a little bit they would know that Satan would not cast out Satan with his own power. Jesus informs them about blasphemy. Understand that this is coming out of their mouth, but the real problem is not their mouth but their heart! Notice what Jesus tells them, “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth for good things: and evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things, But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:34-36). You see what we say draws back the curtains and shows everybody what is in our minds or the biblical heart. If you use harsh words then what kind of heart do you have? If you use unkind words they what kind of heart do you have? If you use vulgar words then what kind of mind do you have? What comes out of your mouth? The world, the church can see!
What we can say can offend someone. Listen to what Jesus said about this, “At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. And whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But who shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:2-6). How can one offend a little child? There may be many ways that you can think of but one way is to say something to them in an out of the way method. Now again we may not be thinking what we are doing but we can offend one of these children into not believing in Christ any more! That is something that would be dreadful to face on the Day of Judgment! Think for a moment, a person is standing before God giving an account of all that they had done it their bodies and they called your name! That person then states that you talked to them in a way that they no longer wanted to be associated with Christ or His bride, the church. What will happen then? What will you answer to God when it comes your turn to give an account before God for this accusation? Something you said drove someone away from the church and their salvation. You might strive to defend yourself. You might say that you did not know that and you don’t remember what you said and in the tone you said it in. It will be too late! The deed has been done, the time of repentance is over. That is why we need to be careful NOW! We need to be careful and take our time in answering someone. This is serious business, can you see why? If we will look at other people when we are talking to them, we might be able to see their reaction. Then we will notice if we offended someone or not!
All of us need to work on this. James tells us something about the tongue. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold, also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brother these thing ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (James 3:1-13).
Brethren, let us be careful of the words, the tone, and inflection that we are using in our words. We want to defend the truth in the correct way and stand for what is right without offending with a word. Let us be careful.