I was just thinking about my penchant for collecting anecdotes — those little snippets of wisdom or humor to make one ponder a subject or situation. Oklahoma Cowboy Philosopher Will Rogers provided us with hundreds of anecdotal stories and sayings. I recall one in particular: “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your pet parrot to the town gossip.” Now that will make one think!
In the realm of Christianity, we need only to peruse the writings of Solomon in Proverbs to find treasured nuggets of wisdom that cause us to ponder how we live, what we think and what we say. Solomon wrote, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Prov. 13:3 NIV). Today, with so many various avenues of communication, especially via social media platforms, words flow rapidly — too often not having been properly guarded.
As followers of Jesus Christ, believers need to be extremely cautious regarding what they say through such media. Although deleting a comment harshly written is an option, once it has appeared it is too late because the damage has been done. The “parrots” then repeat what has been said, much to the chagrin of the regretful writer.
James, the brother of Jesus, wrote: “Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by such a small spark” (James 3:5). So often, when one’s feelings have been injured, the person may lash out — insulting, criticizing and often spreading falsehoods against another person. When that occurs, bystanders are prone to fan the flames of the fire that is spreading.
Again, from Will Rogers: “It isn’t what we know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know ain’t so.” As we enter this second month of 2022, our nation is in various forms of disarray. Character attacks, judgmental spirits, gossip and outright lies are tossed like confetti. Like confetti, one never knows where his words will fall.
It is unwise to speak harshly, judge unfairly and criticize haphazardly because it injures the testimony of believers. It is essential that we guard our lips so that we make speak wisely. James wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy, and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17).
To properly represent our Savior in this world, may each of us wisely guard our speech — so that if we sell our pet parrots, we do not get embarrassed.