Have you ever known someone who had a knack for saying the inappropriate? I’m talking about those people who say things to others that cause you to cringe and wish you could hide!
My dad was in the hospital a number of years ago after a heart attack. He had an angioplasty procedure (“the balloon”) done to clear the blockage. That evening, when he was resting in his hospital room, a friend of my parents came into the hospital room to visit. He leaned against the wall and began talking about a friend of his who had a similar procedure done. He went through this long, detailed story and then paused. My dad was weak, having just come out of recovery. He asked in a faint voice, “What happened to him?” His friend answered, “Oh he’s dead! That balloon didn’t hold.” I saw the mortified look on Dad’s face. Then the guy said, “Well, I’ve got to go.” Out the door he went. So much for encouragement.
I would like to think that what I say is shaped by following Christ. In various situations, I want to say what is appropriate. After all, I am a Christ-follower.
Yet, every day we hear the inappropriate:
*Stupid — Not really thinking about how what I say might impact someone else. “I can’t believe you don’t know how to do this?”
*Thoughtless — Some people just blurt out what enters their mind and don’t seem to use any filter.
*Immoral — Some people have a way of turning innocent remarks or comments into something sexually suggestive or explicit. I once worked (in college) for a large company. I worked in an office area in downtown Dallas. There were approximately fifteen people in our area. Late one afternoon, an older manager was telling dirty jokes to a couple of female staffers. An older woman walked into this conversation, unaware of what was going on. She became the butt of the next joke.
*Rude — Some husbands/wives have given themselves permission to be very rude in the way they speak to their spouses. Sometimes this is done under the guise of “I just need to get my feelings out.”
*Discouraging — A young minister preaches one Sunday morning. He has only been preaching for about six months. He rarely hears any feedback that is encouraging. Meanwhile, several people harshly criticize him each week.
We could talk more about what is inappropriate. But let’s think about what it means to speak what is appropriate.
Saying what is appropriate is sometimes difficult. After all, sometimes a father has to correct his child. At times a wife may have to confront her husband. Sometimes one may have to talk with her close friend about what she is seeing in her life. Yet, there is a way to speak that is gracious yet firm. There is a way to speak that is kind and yet truthful. There is a way to speak that is Christ honoring and appropriate.
At times, we all make mistakes in what we say. Yet, I don’t want to simply shrug my shoulders and say, “That’s just the way I am.”
I have often had to say, “I’m sorry.” On a number of occasions I have said, “That came out wrong. I didn’t mean it the way it must have sounded.” I have said to my wife and my children on a number of occasions, “I’m sorry for my tone of voice.”
Each Sunday, every single word I utter during a sermon is recorded. I take great care in what I say to our congregation each Sunday. I want these messages to be both true and appropriate for the moment. Yet, I need to also have that same concern regarding what I say during the remainder of the week. These words are not recorded like those Sunday messages. Yet, my words are recorded in someone’s mind. These words are no less significant.
In what ways have you seen appropriate words bless others? How have you seen inappropriate words hurt others?