If You Can’t Say Something Nice…
“My words come from an upright heart; my lips sincerely speak what I know.” Job 33:3 NIV
If I worked on the production line in heaven, I would ask God to put a safety valve on people’s tongues to shut it off when their brain gets too heated. Why? Because when people get hot-headed, the overflow of their frustration and emotion often comes billowing out of their mouth in the form of mean and hurtful words.
I’ve often used an object lesson with children to illustrate this concept. Several students are chosen to take part in a race. At the sound of my whistle, each contestant tries to be the first to squeeze all the toothpaste from their tube. Lively music plays in the background while classmates cheer them on. Just when someone thinks they’ve won, I explain the race is only halfway over. Next, they must put the toothpaste back in the tube! They quickly realize it can’t be done. The point is…what flows out so easily is absolutely impossible to put back in.
Words that are spoken can never be taken back. Their effect can last a lifetime. When I was a little girl, my mom used to cut my bangs. Evidently I didn’t sit still for her and the result wasn’t pretty. As we walked along a sidewalk one day, a woman looked at me and said to her companion, “…that poor little girl”. Those words were spoken over fifty years ago, but I still remember today how they made me feel. It was embarrassing, humiliating and unnecessary.
Teach your children the importance of speaking well of others. It’s a lesson we should ALL take to heart…if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. And if you THINK it, but it’s not nice, ask God for the grace to see people and circumstances through His loving and forgiving eyes. Ask for your thoughts to become like His thoughts.
Prayer: God, give me the self-control to speak only words of kindness to others. Keep me from lashing out in anger or saying things I have to apologize for later. Help my children learn how to speak kindly or remain silent. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.