I am smart of mouth. Flip, if you will. The levels of my sarcasm know no end. If I were to give the sharpness of my tongue an animal characteristic, I’d liken it unto a cat (Snort, I been reading the gospels and Jesus was always likening something unto something else and that was just funny to me). Cats are calm and uninterested in literally everything–until they see a target. There is nothing like watching a cat go from sleep to eyes flattened, eyes dilated, gaze narrowing and BAM! The cat is tearing up your pants leg, your arm, the toy, another animal… straight up pounced upon. That’s me. That’s how I talk to people. Or at least that’s how I used to deliberately talk to people. I have been a real asshole. But as I grow up–again, more so grace and wisdom than age–I am much more aware of how I sound to other people. It’s not good, to say the least.
See, this is the part of offense no one really wants to talk about. We like to tell people not to be sensitive and throw a bunch of scriptures on them about forgiveness and not taking offense and stuff. But we totally avoid our responsibility in not setting people off. Just as God commands us how to be reactive-slow to anger and not to sin in it, He also demands that we live proactively:
Muzzle that mouth. So I have this thing that I tell my two daughters that says: what enters the mind doesn’t always need to exit the mouth. And honestly, most of the time, if I just stop myself from verbalizing what I thought to say I avoid about 87% of all offense that I could cause. Because I grew up learning to battle with my words, 9 times out of 10 what I’m getting ready to say is bites. Even if you ask me if I’m going to the store. Or if I like your outfit. Or how I’m doing today. Or how come I didn’t call you. Or have a nice day. My mouth is set up for retort. So I have just learned to shut up.
“Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
James 3:4-8 KJV
Stop using “being honest as an excuse to be unpleasant”. And no, not saying what pops into my mind doesn’t keep me from being honest. It keeps me from being honest just for honesty’s sake. The purpose of speaking up and out is to inform change–not just to hear yourself tell the truth. I have family who constantly tag folks with “the truth” then wonder why people dislike them. Listening to and performing under the unction of the Holy Ghost–and not out your own self-righteousness– works wonders.
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.”
Proverbs 15:4 KJV
“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.”
Proverbs 17:27 KJV
There is a difference between permissible and expedient. Unlike the above statement (where we hide behind honesty to use our words as weapons), there are some who actually mean well but do not reflect on their words. They want to help somebody, but the delivery sucks.They literally do not THINK: was it Thoughtful? Helpful? Important? Necessary? Kind? If what you’re saying doesn’t fit at least 3 criteria, you probably should not say it.
“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
Proverbs 31:26 KJV
“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!”
Proverbs 15:23 KJV
Tone it down. The hallmark of offending people? Tone. Body language. Facial expressions. Even if our words aren’t necessarily ugly, how you say them can be. I know that my tone is the worst. And my eyebrows have a mind of their own. So between the sharp edge of my voice and the twitch in my face, I hurt a lot of feelings without really meaning to these days. And because I am not naturally sweet person, this one has been the hardest for me to overcome.
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Colossians 4:6 KJV
“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.”
Proverbs 16:24 KJV
With every level of maturity, God provides you with a snapshot of where you are headed. Be willing to tackle more than just the “cardinal sins”; go in for the ones that matter in relationships. Getting over being offended AND being offensive put you in position to love freely. You release the blockage of Gos’s love flowing through you to others. That’s the goal.