By My Anonymous Friend
I have a variety of interests as I am sure you do also. One activity I enjoy is picking up new recreational vehicles from the factory on occasion and delivering them to a local RV dealer. This past week I made such a trip … to pick up a beautiful new trailer. As I drove I listened to various talk radio stations as I often do. Doing so led me to my theme for this week.
As I listened I was chagrined to hear information being passed off as fact that I knew to be either greatly exaggerated or else patently false. The host of the talk show never once questioned the veracity of the information he was using. What happens a lot in our world today is that bloggers write about things important to them and media outlets use these blogs as their sources without ever doing the kind of fact checking that good journalism requires. Information is then made public in established print or electronic media and picked up by talk show hosts or the public. It is assumed to be true but may in fact not be so at all. At times all spectrums of the political landscape are guilty of this carelessness. This guilt extends far beyond just political discourse and includes business, family, and church life equally. As Winston Churchill once said, "A lie makes its way half way around the world before truth has put its pants on!"
It is very critical for us to be sure we have facts before we speak about them. We can do serious damage to someone's reputation or cause when we pass along information that may not be accurate. Sometimes even when we have facts it is still good judgment to guard what we say. Scripture warns of this in many references.
1. We should not talk if we do not possess the facts. "He who gives an answer before he hears it is folly and shame to him" (Prov. 18:13).
2. We should not talk if our words would only inflame a situation. "He who restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding" (Prov. 17:27).
3. We should not talk if our words could damage a friendship or hurt another's reputation. "A worthless man digs up evil, while his words are as a scorching fire" (Prov. 16:27). "A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends" (Prov. 16:28). "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof" (Prov. 18:21).
4. We should not talk if doing so might put us into a realm where we do not belong. "Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks evil against his brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it" (James 4:11).
As someone for whom talking was a way of life for many years and still is to a great degree, these admonitions are at times very convicting to me. I wonder how many people I have hurt over the years with careless things I have said. James wrote of the power of the tongue. We have all experienced the positive power when a sincere compliment is given. It lifts our spirits and elevates our sense of well being. But we have also experienced the piercing pain that an unthoughtful comment can deliver. It stings and hurts.
My prayer for myself and for you is that we might only use speech that in the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:29 might give grace to the hearer.