“But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12:36)
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. …
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:29-31)
“We only edify here.” Before we got married, Jeff lived to a great group of guys (Hey Jose, Mike and Daniel!). One of the “rules” at their house was that only edifying comments would be made. None of the snarky comments that people make so often were allowed. You know the ones. The things you say because you’re trying to be funny. Or things you say in a sarcastic way to tease someone. You assume the person hearing the comment knows you’re joking. Comments like “Put on a few pounds there Tubby?” or “Like you could get a woman to go out with you!” or “Did you think of that idea yourself?” when something basic was said. In some ways, it seems to be a characteristic more of men than women to talk this way. Women are more likely to say these things about you, just not to you.
But guess what? People don’t always know that you’re joking. And even if they did, words have power. The power to encourage or to hurt. The person might go away and think about your comment. It could stew in their head and eventually become a lie that they believe. Or they’ll always think of you as the person who hurt them.
It’s kind of an area that I’m failing at lately. Mostly because I don’t stop to think about what I’m about to say. Or because I really do get in a snarky mood and let a barb slip out. Cause I get mean and ugly like that sometimes. And I really dislike that part of myself. It doesn’t mean I have to compliment someone when I don’t feel like it. It doesn’t mean that I have to say something I don’t believe to true. It just means that I need to hold my tongue and remember my mom’s advice: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”.
So take a cue from my husband and let your motto be “We only edify.” You might find it harder than you think.