“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 1:26 and 3:5–6).
My Musings – “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’ At the second gate ask, ‘Is it necessary?’ At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?’ ” — Rumi (1207-1273), Persian poet.
In a tense moment, my dad was once asked why he kept quiet. His response? “Why say something I might regret later?” There are many times that people speak (or post) before knowing whether it is true, necessary or kind. This often leads to later regret. Relationships damaged, perhaps beyond repair.
Rumi was a Sunni Muslim. This does not mean we automatically dismiss his saying. As with any teaching, we must run it through the filter of God’s Word.
- Is it true? – “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.” (Proverbs 12:22, NIV 1984). What we say or write must always be truthful. Sometimes we pass along so-called truths without validating them. If we are unsure, make sure. Otherwise, it is best left unsaid and not passed along.
- Is it necessary? – “A time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7, NIV 1984). The truth need not always be said. Sometimes we use the truth vindictively. The truth used for impure motives is not only unnecessary, at best it is unwise. At worst, it is sinful. Of course Jesus took this a step further. If we harbor it in our hearts it can still be sin.
- Is it Kind? – “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12, NIV 1984). Sometimes the truth hurts, but needs (necessary) telling. It could be unkind to leave it unsaid. But in such cases compassion and gentleness in the telling is of the utmost importance.
My Advice – Take your time and think before you speak or post. What is said cannot be unsaid. “Why say something [you] might regret later?”