Hannah’s first birthday is coming up. (I can’t believe it has already been a year!!) So, last night, I was online looking for party ideas to keep everyone entertained. I googled “first birthday party”, and was given a list of several sites that might contain some useful information. I found a few good articles, and a link to a “new moms” message board, saying that I might be able to find more help there. In this day and age, one should be extremely careful about following internet links, but this one seemed safe enough, so, I clicked on the link. Not being fluent in the language of internet message boards, it took me some time to decipher some of the “codes”. But, I was able to get the basic idea.
While I was excited to find some good advice about the party, I was disturbed by some of the other things I found. While this board’s stated purpose is to give new moms a place to ask share, learn, and make new friends, I was discouraged to find that many of the posts served as a place for these new moms not to share or request advice or encouragement, but as a place to share far too much information about personal topics, and to vent their frustrations with their husbands. Now, I did have to take into consideration the fact that this was not a “Christian” message board. But, I don’t see this problem as being exclusive to non-Christians. I see it all the time in Christian circles as well. Maybe we Christians are just more clever at disguising it. We couch our complaints about our husbands in the form of seeking accountability, or offering up prayer requests.
Every other week I meet with a group of women from my Sunday school class with the purpose of encouraging one another, and holding each other accountable in our spiritual walk. In order to do this, we have come up with 5 questions that we ask each other each time we meet. The second question we ask is, “Have I shown discretion in my speech?” These questions are asked in the order in which they were created. There is really no significance to the order, except that it is just the way that they were originally written down. But, I do find it ironic that this question on our speech almost always follows the question, “Have I been disrespectful to my husband?” (Ironic, but, I think, quite appropriate!!) How easy it is to answer this question by launching into a narrative on all of our husband’s mistakes, faults, and basically what a jerk he has been over the past week! And, of course, our point in doing so is to point out our own shortcoming, and wrong response, right? And, while our response to the situation was undeniably sinful, I can’t help but wonder if the real reason behind relating the story is to validate that we were somehow “justified” in reacting in a sinful manner. I think that we enjoy receiving the sympathetic looks, and nods of understanding that these stories bring our way. But, is sharing such a story necessary? Can we truly say that we are showing discretion in our speech when we paint our husbands in such an unfavorable light? No, we can’t.
I was convicted of this as I have been reading James this week. This morning I was reading in chapter 3. James 3:8 says “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.” I like how John MacArthur describes it in his commentary,
“…The human tongue is innately uncontrollable and untamable. It is wild, undisciplined, irresponsible, irrepressible, and savage.”
Now if that doesn’t paint a picture! He goes on to say,
“But no one, that is, no human being in his own power, can tame the tongue. Even in believers, the tongue can easily slip out of its sanctified cage, as it were, and do great harm. Its work can be so subtle that it sometimes escapes notice until the damage is done.”
I am so thankful that the Lord has given me friends who are willing to keep me accountable in this area! I don’t want to be guilty of causing harm by my words – either to the people listening, or to the ones that I am talking (let’s just call it what it is – gossiping) about. Sometimes that may require just remaining silent. I think that Thumper (from Disney’s “Bambi”) had a good perspective when he said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.” Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” But, it shouldn’t just be about what we don’t say. More important to consider is what we do say. Are our words “always with grace, and seasoned with salt”? Do the things that I say edify the people that are listening? I pray that they do.