Have you ever blurted out a hurtful or harmful comment without first thinking through the repercussions of it?
It happens. And when it does, the damage has been done.
It's like squeezing too much toothpaste from the tube. If you try to put it back into the tube, you have an even larger mess to clean up.
Once words leave our lips, they are out there and we cannot take them back. Those who heard or were the recipients of such a comment will have a strong reaction — usually not a pleasant reaction.
A mature person will own up to their mistake, apologize and seek forgiveness. This will go a long way to healing the rift that may have opened up. Others will try to justify or deny what was said, being unwilling to admit a mistake was made.
The Letter of James says that the tongue is a very small part of the body, but is extremely hard to control.
In James 3:5-8, James wrote, "The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison."
It may be easy to assume I am making reference to comments and statements made by our current president. He may have inspired the original thought — and I have great issue with the derogatory comments he says or tweets. However, we can all — myself included — take heed of the wisdom from James.
If we, who say we love God and our Lord, make unkind statements, James has this for us to think about: "Sometimes [the tongue] praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? No, and you can't draw fresh water from a salty spring." (James 3:9-12)
Ponder the language you use. Check your heart. Think of the repercussions of what you might say. Do your best to tame your tongue. This will go a long way to building strong relationships and healing humanity.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.