“This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue – it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!” James 3:7-10 Msg
Right before a flood, hurricane, or tornado warning flash across the television screen, stations get viewer’s attention by playing an irritating “beep-beep-beep”. The sound makes us sit up and take notice. Something important is coming. I heard those same cautionary noises in my spirit during Joel Osteen’s sermon on Sunday. Beep. Beep. Beep. Listen up, Katherine, you need to hear this.
The topic was honoring people with our mouths.
I may as well stop here to admit I love gossip. God knows it. I know it. Anyone who has worked with me knows it. Specifically, work gossip. It’s the best. Not personal stuff like work romances or who is sleeping with whom or who has troubled families. It’s the political intrigue of who’s rising to the top or who is falling from grace along with all the reasons and speculations that surround the discovery that fascinate me. The corporate rumor mill. I listened. I heard. I spread.
As I listened to Pastor Osteen, I realized that I also reaped. It’s an unfortunate truth and a difficult lesson to learn that if I sow disparaging remarks, I’ll reap critical judgments. Galatians 6:7 in The Message states, “What a person plants, he will harvest”. Last year this time, I reaped an overabundant crop of denigrating criticism.
I thought about all the words I’ve spoken in the last few years of my work life. I thought about how greedy I was to hear the rumors and to send a co-worker a quick instant message stating the latest. The comments usually started with an “I shouldn’t say this but…” or “You’re not going to believe this, but…”
Even as I write this devotional, knowing I’ve already repented, I am ashamed and convicted. I like to think God’s purpose for my life is based on Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.(ESV)” I pray each morning that I would have a word in season to him who is weary. (Isaiah 50:4) My words, spoken or written, are to be a blessing to the hearer. I’ve been self-deceived in thinking that corporate gossip isn’t really gossip. I lost sight of my purpose. And for that, I am truly sorry.
May God, the living God, set a guard over my mouth and keep watch over the door of my lips that my words indeed would uplift those who are weary and bring comfort to those in need. In Jesus’ name I pray.