And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both freshwater and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
In the middle of World War II the United States government needed to find an effective way of encouraging American citizens to be careful with their speech. If they were too flippant or careless, there was a chance that crucial information could be leaked and lives could be lost. So the memorable phrase was coined and circulated: “loose lips sink ships.”
In the same way that loose lips could eventually lead to wrecked ships, loose lips can eventually lead to wrecked relationships. When you speak about people, does love, goodness, and kindness naturally emerge? Or do you sometimes catch yourself putting people down? Sharing unnecessary and hurtful information? Inflating your own heroics while slightly degrading the status of others? If we aren’t intentional about the purity, integrity, and wholesomeness of our language, our character and our relationships will eventually sink beneath the water.
When a witness takes the stand in a court of law they are asked, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” This shouldn’t only be the standard for official courtroom speech; this should be the standard for all our speech.
And we could add another question, too: “Do you swear to speak lovingly, compassionately, and carefully at all times, with the same level of kindness, consideration, and discretion you would want others to show when they speak about you?”
Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking we gain something by putting others down. The truth is -- we don’t. Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking think we have the right to share hurtful information. The truth is -- we don’t.
As you go throughout this week, strive to protect and promote the reputation of others more so than your own.