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Nothing Nice to Say?

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all."~Thumper from the movie Bambi

I have some friends and acquaintances that make such nasty and mean-spirited statements towards people. Their words can be ugly, vulgar, or just downright hateful. When I used to spend time with these friends, I often stayed quiet because I did not want to be the target of their wrath. Some of these people could be really unpleasant to have around, yet I hung out with them anyway. After a while, though, I stopped hanging out with such people.

For most of my life I have been known mostly as a "nice girl", but I know that I have a really mean streak too. I know that my biting words have hurt my loved ones. I have said some pretty rude things about celebrities and others I do not know personally. My judgement of my friends' behaviors are also judgments of my own. My poor attitude made people not want to be with me, and they would stay away. When I started tasting the bitterness of my ugly words, I knew I had to stop saying cruel things. I could not blame other people for my own behavior.

My first thoughts when I see someone in an unflattering outfit or doing a poor job is almost always less than gentle. My old self might have muttered something to someone nearby, hoping to be justified by their chuckle at my cruel joke. Now, though, if I did something like that, I know I would not be sharing the love of Christ. Jesus spoke with authority, righteousness, and gentleness. There are places in the New Testament where Jesus seemed to be mean to others, especially the Pharisees. Was that being God-like? Was that demonstrating how his followers should also behave? One time, as Jesus was teaching a group of people, he called some a "brood of vipers". How mean, Jesus! Or, was he calling the people out on their hypocrisy? Was he calling them out on their total disrespect of the Lord's words by twisting the Truth and the Laws to benefit themselves. Read the words from Matthew 12:33-37 (English Standard Version)

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.

My words matter, and so do yours! Some people may not think so, but God does. He hears not just the words from my mouth, but also my thoughts (Psalm 139:2). When I say something or write something, I need to be mindful. Is what I say glorifying God? Is what I am saying going to produce good? Not that everything I say must be "bible babble", but that what I say is what God wants me to say. I should be speaking from goodness, and not evil. This does not mean that I must make up nice things to say to everyone, but that what I say must be useful and good. If I am new in Christ, then so must my words be. When I join in with the hateful speech of others, then my words are now bringing "bad fruit". God hears and sees everything we do. Nothing we do is secret to him. Let us be known for our good fruit!

Ephesians 4:29-31 (English Standard Version)

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.

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