My head has been spinning in recent days amid all that’s been going in our country. We can barely recover from one crisis before we’re on to the next.
The hate. The division. The internal strife. It’s a lot to process, and I know I’m not alone in my confusion, sadness, frustration and exhaustion.
I also know this isn’t a uniquely American problem, nor is the hate and division a new phenomenon. But while it wasn’t birthed anytime in recent memory, it does appear to be metastasizing into something far more sinister, as social media and elevated rhetoric help to further perpetuate vitriol and disdain.
Amid the chaos, I sat down on Wednesday to do a bit of a different devotional. Rather than continue on in my typical readings, I intentionally decided to focus in on what the Bible says about the power of the tongue.
Like most Christians, I have frequently read the Book of James, but I went out of my way this time to specifically look at the other verses that tell us about the profound power — or destruction — that can come as the result of our words.
In a world in which social media often drives the narrative and emboldens people to attack one another, I needed a reminder (I think we all do) of the price or reward that can come from what we say and how and why we say it. So, let’s just consider two pieces of scripture that can help us amid the chaos:
– Ephesians 4:29-31: “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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
– Proverbs 12:17-18: “An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
It’s clear from God’s word that we have the power to make change — and it starts with how we react and interact. We need to watch our words, curb our attacks, intentionally build up others and be a positive force in the world. I love the notion that a wise tongue “brings healing.” That’s a pretty powerful concept.
Let’s face it: A lot of us are being unwise in how we’re choosing to interact these days. We’re letting fear drive our narratives and we’re putting empty and vapid words out into the social media sphere where they collectively do little more than gin up others.
Let’s have positive discussions. Let’s look for common ground. Let’s remember that, as James 3 warns, “a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.” Let’s not keep putting those sparks out there.
The issues our nation is contending with are difficult, emotional and multifaceted. But we have the ability — and, for Christians, the responsibility — to do things differently. Let’s be the change.