By Roger Campbell
Have you said something you regret? You’re not the first to do so.
Through the centuries, careless and cutting words have wounded hearers and brought regret to those who spoke them. Churches have been divided, family ties broken and friendships torn apart by unkind words harshly spoken.
One of the saddest stories of the power of wounding words I have heard relates to a marriage that suffered a verbal blow shortly after the wedding. The couple stayed together for years, but the husband never recovered from a cutting comment made by his bride and named this as one of the main causes of their ultimate divorce.
The Bible calls the tongue a fire that can cause hellish destruction (James 3:5). Experience agrees.
In his book, “The Tongue–Angel or Demon?” George Sweeting warned: “A fiery tongue is like a burning match in a gasoline tank. The tongue ignites a great fire. A word of hate inflames opposition. A mocking word incites bitterness. An evil word may kindle a career of sin. A foul word heard on the streets, in the shop, in the school, may start fires burning within until nothing is left but ashes.
“Contentious tongues have hindered the work of God a thousand times over. Critical tongues have broken the hearts and health of many pastors.”
On the other hand, the tongue has immense potential for good. Most of us remember when someone has come along at a critical time in our lives with just the right words to help us through some difficulty. Looking back, we know this was no chance encounter. These encouragers arrived right on time because this was part of God’s plan and the result of His love.
We have all spoken words we’d like to recall. Sometimes we’ve made enemies or offended people when we didn’t intend to do so. But these verbal blunders do not mean we’re to live with regret for the rest of our lives, the victims of our own voices. We can be forgiven…and change.
Consider Peter. Three times, just before the crucifixion, he denied that he even knew his Lord and emphasized these three infamous denials with profanity. Still, his troubling lapse of faith and shameful conduct did not render him useless for life. The same tongue that had been profane under pressure demonstrated the proof of his faith when surrendered to God, making him one of the most influential spokesmen of the first century church.
So there is hope for you. God forgives and wants to become the Lord of your language. You’ve not been able to control your unruly tongue, but God can. He will cause your words to heal instead of hurt, to build up rather than tear down. But this change must begin in your heart.
When God is in control of your life, that wild beast caged behind your teeth will be tamed and you won’t have to live with regret anymore.
Roger Campbell was an author, a broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org