We Must Watch What We Say

by

In Africa, our greatest sport is football—what Americans call soccer. In February 2012, my country, Zambia, won the African championship. Our country went into a state of euphoria. We forgot about all our problems. We were a proud nation. We were the African champions!

Well, due to the need to synchronize the African championship with the FIFA World Cup, the biggest sporting event on the planet, our reign was cut short by a year and we had to get back to the pitch to defend our title this year. Sadly, we lost badly—very badly.

A lot of Zambians, including Christians, expressed unbridled anger at this loss. You would not want to hear what was said on public buses. Unfortunately, this talk was also heard in car parks (parking lots) outside church buildings after church services.

What is sad is that often this nasty talk took place within earshot of children sitting in cars waiting for their enraged dads to take them home. Their minds were polluted by this angry talk. The incensed conversation smoked out the Sunday sermon.

As I have thought about all this, I have been reminded of the words of Asaph the psalmist. He was disappointed with God when he saw that the ungodly were prosperous and healthy while he was wallowing in poverty and illness. He was tempted to say harsh things against God.

However, he desisted from doing so. He said, “If I had said, ‘I will speak thus,’ I would have betrayed the generation of your children” (Ps. 73:15). In other words, emotional outbursts can often make us say the wrong things. We must watch what we say.

Let us face it: it takes a lot of self-control to stop the mouth from speaking that which fills the heart. As the Lord Jesus Christ once said, the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart (Matt. 12:34). So, when you are hurt or disappointed, your words are bound to be bitter.

Yet, let us always remember the consequences of the words that we speak. Those who hear the things we say never remain the same afterward. They are either edified or defiled. We easily forget what we say, but others do not. Our words stick on them like viruses.

Think of what happens when political election results come out and “the wrong candidate” has won. Often, Christians can be heard cursing the winner and talking as if the end of the world has come. It is as though God is not in control—even though we know He is.

Such diatribes are a betrayal of the true faith of God’s elect. As Christians, our speech ought to be seasoned with salt so that it edifies and builds up our listeners, even if they are merely eavesdropping. Our speech must never deny our belief that our God reigns. 

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.