Have you ever heard someone say or ask something and a wild thought pop into your head? And before you can tell yourself “no, do not say that” you hear the words coming out of your mouth. And then you find yourself in an OMG moment with possibly a side of embarrassment as you sit there with your foot hanging out of your mouth.
Moments like Peter seemed to have more often than others. Peter, the brash disciple who seems to speak whatever thought came into his head, no matter how crazy or inappropriate. He seemed to speak first – and, finding his foot in his mouth, left himself to deal with the consequences later.
Thank God He loves messy people – including those of us who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. Those of us whose “be quiet” filter malfunctions from time to time. Those of us who dine on filet of sole because we speak before we think. Those of us who are emotionally charged and find ourselves speaking (spewing) out of turn by temper’s lead. Those of us who often speak out of turn and without proper context.
Those of us just like Peter.
But here is the blessing – Peter’s careless tongue never stopped God from loving him. It also did not stop God from giving him a great purpose. Because God knew that Peter’s tongue, when tempered by passion for Him, would help bring many people to God’s love.
And Peter’s passion for God, I think, was helped along by all those foot-in-mouth moments.
I can only pray that God uses my foot-in-mouth OMG moments just like He did for Peter. Especially after I had one this past week at work.
Our new temp asked why someone was leaving early. I am not sure why she asked, except that this was the only other person she knew in the building. As I rolled my eyes at her question, I gave her a joking response – something so out of the norm that it may distract her.
But I did not think about my response before I spoke – which I should have. It was something a former coworker and I used to joke and laugh about. But these were new people in a new environment, with actual adult expectations. We were still getting to know each other.
And I knew as soon as the words left my mouth that I was wrong. That my “don’t say that” filter was malfunctioning as my brain tricked my tongue into believing we were still at my old job.
And had I been wise enough to pause and filter, I would have stopped the words that came out of my mouth. Because I should not have joked the way I did. My conscience immediately checked me when it heard the words – and I internally and externally cringed. And if that was not bad enough, HR checked me later that week.
And I could still be beating myself up about my words. But I am not. I look back at the incident and I realize God is giving me a gentle reminder that it is crucial that I watch my words.
Because words change the atmosphere around me.
Because words change the influence I have.
Because words change people’s opinions.
And I could easily destroy the good work God is doing with careless words.
So God used this incident to remind me that words are important.
Words should highlight the positive – and not glorify the negative.
Words should encourage and build up – not discourage or tear down.
Words should bring joy and peace – not sow discord and pain.
Words should bring purpose and healing – not destroy faith and hope.
Words should bring people closer – not push them away.
So I failed in all these aspects. Why?
Because I stopped paying attention to what I was thinking about.
Because I listened to my emotions instead of grace.
Because I refused to pause and consider.
And therefore, I needed God to remind me of the dangers of careless words.
Carelessness covers (conceal) grace.
Carelessness chases away grace.
Carelessness casts off grace.
Paul may have also learned this lesson the hard way. Because he gives us great advice about our words in Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
If my words are not “impart[ing] grace”, then I should NOT be speaking them. Which means that I need to consider if my words are careless and caustic or comforting and caring BEFORE I speak. And if there is no grace in my thoughts, then I need to cast them aside and refuse to let them become words.
Thank You, Father, for the continued reminder about my words. Thank You for keeping me on point about the impact and power of my words – that without Your grace they are “full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). Help me to speak words that “impart grace” (Ephesians 4:29) and help people know You. Help me to be intentional about not being careless with anything I say and do. When I am off course, correct me however You see fit. Thank You for loving me enough to correct me as You lead me into Your best life. In Jesus’ all-mighty name. AMEN!
Marie Fremin. 10/26/18, 11/17/18, 11/18/18.