Have you ever played the game of gossip?
In this game, you get everyone in one place and you tell something to one person. Then they tell one person what you said. They tell another what you said and on and on it goes through the entire group.
The fun comes when the last person tells what they heard. Undoubtedly, it will have changed—maybe drastically—by the time it gets to the end.
This “game” happens in our lives too. Only then, it’s not a game. Stories are repeated, embellished, altered (accidentally or purposefully), or shortened. In the end, we have something sometimes grossly different than what it started off being.
Regardless of how we change the words, it’s careless.
This is the also the warning of Proverbs 11:12:
Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.
Proverbs 11:12, New International Version
When we “deride” someone, we are despising them with our words. We’re using our words as weapons against them. It happens so fast that we spout off our hot-headed response (with our mouths or our keyboards) and the damage is done—to us and them.
Our neighbors are not just those who live next door. It’s those who are around us. It’s those around our influence.
Under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, King Solomon tell us we have no sense if we do this! Our carelessness is senseless. It’s a lack of self-control and reveals our lack of wisdom.
When we are wise (having understanding), we learn to hold our tongues instead of attacking people all the time. We are careful to not let the world know every thought we have in our heads and hearts.
One of the great downfalls of so many people in this area is social media. We say things there that we’d NEVER say face-to-face. We trash talk, complain, moan, groan, fuss, and poor-mouth ourselves to the point where our carelessness ends up hurting our own reputation. It also pours this dark shroud of negativity over others.
Instead, we are called by the Lord to be careful with our words.
We use a lot of words in a given day. Experts tell us we use an average of 7,439 words a day. That’s a lot of chances to be careless with words. But it also represents a lot of opportunities to use our words to encourage others.
We can learn the understanding needed to ensure more of our 7,439 words are careful and not careless.
Let us gain the understanding needed to prevent our words going wrong.