“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
Why do we even have the urge to say negative things about one another? Does it makes us feel better about ourselves? Do we want the person we’re talking with to be on our side? Do we simply just find entertainment in it?
Proverbs 18:8 even addresses the seduction of gossip. I can’t pinpoint what exactly is so enticing about invalidating another human being. All I know, is that I have to wrestle with myself to not voice those thoughts.
Sometimes the things I want to say are absolutely true and the person has done something specific to earn my opinion of them. Other times, it’s nothing in particular that they’ve done to me. It could be that our personalities just don’t mesh. But regardless of why I possess these negative opinions of others, I am still responsible for abiding by the Bible.
“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3(NIV)
Just because someone else messed up doesn’t give me the privilege of talking about it.Tweet
If I’m being utterly candid, I’ll admit this concept has not been one of my best strengths. I’m working on it. As a matter of fact, I feel now more than ever, a tug on my heart every time I say a negative comment about someone. That grace-filled but corrective tug is constantly reminding me that I can’t see the whole picture and even if I could, who am I to referee right and wrong?
God can see, though. He sees every side of every story. He sees the motivations behind all the decisions.
“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
God sees the heart. I think heart-seeing is the stipulation for voicing an negative opinion of someone. And since it appears none of us have been endowed with that ability, looks like we’re going to have to keep our mouths closed and our hearts in a constant state of grace-giving.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not an immediate switch that flips and suddenly you never want to say anything bad about anyone again. Trust me. But like anything, we can become skilled with practice. I’d love to think that I am skilled in the technique of grace.
Being good to other people isn’t the only reason we should refrain from talking badly about them. Something God showed me was that when I stop being so harsh on the people around me, I also find grace for myself.
I think the people that are harshest on others are brutal on theirselves.
When we cheapen the desirability of our own gifts and personalities we find it difficult to discover them in others.Tweet
I’ve been so hard on my loud and brimming personality as if everyone in the world needed to be the quiet type. My friend Julia, is the lovely sweet and quiet, type. I love her. My friend Stephie is the lively loud and uplifting type. I love her. In fact, they both have helped me see the good in myself. I suppose that’s partly what godly friends are for.
Finding good in the people around you will always help you find the good in yourself.
Speaking good of the people around you will protect you from speaking harshly to yourself.
And you know the drill, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.