There are many examples of a public figure ‘doubling-down’ today on something they said yesterday. There seems to be just as many examples of politicians who clearly said something yesterday that their office will attempt to ‘correct for the record’ today. Do you and I have any problem with things that we say? These are four scriptures that may guide our actions.
In James 3, we have a clear warning about our words: “The tongue also is a fire … it corrupts the whole body … (and) sets the whole course of one’s life on fire … no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (v 6-8) Thankfully, most of us don’t have to speak into a microphone or face immediate criticism to words that we choose. Still, we should carefully consider what we choose to say. Who is our audience? What is our motive for speaking? Will God be glorified in our speech?
Paul instructed the Ephesians as to how they should choose their words. Mature Christians must have a strong context of love when we speak (implying that any speech coming from a different motivation should be avoided). Eph 4.15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” By our speech, we demonstrate our growth and our commitment to imitate Jesus Christ.
In Colossians 3.17, Paul put a large umbrella over our behavior and our speech. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” In too many situations, we may forget to use this standard before we speak.
The Bible describes situations where Christ had very strong words (to the Pharisees) and Paul was critical of false teachers (Galatians and Philippians). When we have an opportunity to speak about our faith, we should be strong but loving. On almost every other topic, it would be in our best interests to prayerfully consider what we might say before we say it. In Matt 5.37, Jesus gave this advice, “All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”