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Unkind Words

By Joy West

The other day I wrote an email to a dear friend and inserted a phrase that I thought might be a little humorous. I hesitated, pondering it, pushed aside the warning, and continued writing. After all, my motive wasn’t malicious. I finished the email, proofread it, and pushed “send message”. With lightning speed it rushed to its intended destination and waited to be opened, but not before it was forever engraved in the email archives of “the cloud”.

A couple of days later, my friend gently responded and mentioned that what I had written was probably unkind. I immediately felt deep sorrow and remorse for having created a possible breech in our friendship. I should have heeded the Holy Spirit’s prompting to remove those unfiltered words. I was equally grateful that our relationship was mature enough to withstand a confrontation, sincere apology, and forgiveness.

The Bible has much to say about our words, especially in Proverbs and James. What we say, whether by tongue, pen, or computer keyboard, can have a great impact on others — negatively or positively.

Proverbs 21:23 says: Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble. (NLT)

I should have taken that advice before writing that email!

The writer of Proverbs instructs us to use words that are

  • Kind

  • Helpful

  • Wise

  • Gentle

  • Truthful

As much as I would like to undo, delete, erase, redo my unkind words, I cannot. The pathway behind me bears my footprints. However, I can move forward with grace, learning, forgiving, not speaking or writing everything that pops into my mind, allowing the Holy Spirit to set up guardrails around my tongue and typing fingers.

What are some guardrails that could help you refrain from verbalizing or writing something you might regret?

For further meditation and study, read Solomon’s wise advice in Proverbs 10, 12:18-19, 15:1-4.

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