Today I attended the funeral of a friend from junior high school. One of the nicest and sweetest guys I’ll probably ever meet. The number one thing I remember when I think about him is when my “boyfriend” broke up with me in 8th grade. He was there with a venti starbucks wanting me to know it was okay. I wish I could have brought him starbucks last week and told him everything was okay. That it would be okay.
We use our words to talk, to post, to comment, to tell stories, share moments, voice our opinions and speak our mind. Today our words are more exposed and more accessible than ever before. And even with that exposure, a lot of times we don’t think before we hit post, send or comment. We think it’s our right to say what we want and tell people what we think. Freedom of speech right?
We don’t think about other people. When we have strong opinions about someone or something, we don’t think about that someone being a someone. A child, a spouse, a grandchild, a friend, a parent, a sibling.. most importantly a child of God. Someone Jesus died for just like me. When we see someone acting out, making mistakes, being dramatic, or causing a scene.. we don’t think about what could be going on in their lives, in their minds, at their homes and in their hearts. We judge people so fast when we think they’ve done something wrong, having to have forgotten “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Me being the number one fallen short.
Maybe you do think about who they are, what they’re going through. But I don’t always. And recently I was sitting at a game listening to fans badmouth a player on the other team. I happen to know exactly what was going on in their life. I had a unique perspective that taught me so much. They were calling the player names and saying they should win an oscar for their performance. I wanted to turn around and say “I wish you knew what they have gone through just this week.” I wish we all knew what every person we encounter was going through. But the least we can do is to realize we don’t know and realize everyone is fighting a battle we cannot see.
We choose every single word that comes out of our mouths. And most of us don’t think much about the words we use. I watched as shares, comments, “reactions” and replies flooded the Facebook post of the news article about my friend last week. People who never knew him, never met his family, never saw the smile on his face or heard the encouraging words that always came from his heart. They judged him, they called him names, they told him he didn’t deserve to live. And he believed them.
Your words are powerful. Your words have the power to kill and destroy and your words have the power to build and give life. The Message says Proverbs 18:21 like this “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”
Our pastor today said we cannot focus on what we do not know, we can only focus on what we do know. That’s a really good thought for our words as well. You should only speak about what you know. A lot of people went to Facebook on Thursday afternoon posting a lot of things they didn’t know about a person they did not know and never cared to get to know. Choosing words as poison.
I know my friend made mistakes as I make mistakes. He chose worldly desires sometimes, just as I choose worldly desires sometimes. And he was fighting something inside of him nobody could see, just like I many times am fighting a battle nobody can see. But I know my friend was kind, gracious, dearly loved and loved dearly. He was caring and genuine. He never said anything bad about anyone. He was always interested in other people and how their lives were going. He was a friend to everyone. Time and time again, I have heard stories about every time someone would see him.. he would ask about their lives, their children, etc. He would remember the previous conversations he had with them.. asking about progress on the house they were building or the wedding they were planning. He deeply cared for every person in his life. He loved God and He knew Jesus was his Savior, dying on the cross for his sins. He was forgiven by Christ, he was loved by Christ and he was alive by Christ.
I pray every day we will choose words that bring life and build others around us. I pray our words will be gracious and kind. Caring and uplifting. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” Ephesians 4:29 I pray we will use words like my friend did.. genuinely asking about lives, asking about prayer and loving the people around us. Never letting any unwholesome talk come out of our mouths.. never talking bad about anyone. I pray we can follow my friend in what we know about him.. loving God and loving others so well.
Don’t let the way he ended his life taint the memories of all what made him.. him. The words said about him, the accusations, the guilt set upon him.. they do not define him or his life. Christ was accused, battered, beaten, and killed for everything He did not do and everything we have done. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 The life I now live is in Christ. Because my friend knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ defines his life, does He defines yours?
Your words.. they don’t define the people you’re slandering. The words on Facebook, they mean nothing about the people targeted. Your words about other people.. they define you. Your words define you. What do your words say about you?
“the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.” Matthew 15:18
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-36