I typically duck from social and political commentary even though I have a zillion opinions. Talking about being a mom is way simpler than wading into unpleasant public controversies. But with Christianity in the news right now – specifically, what Christians are free to say or not – many moms have joined the conversation. I will too.
My main objective is to urge us all to tread carefully. The scriptures are clear that we should share our faith boldly, but we’re also called to be wise, even silent at times. Jesus said that truth is like a strand of pearls; we can’t just throw it around. He was such a master of dialogue, especially with sinful folk.
Take for example, the woman caught in adultery in John 8. Jesus turned this woman’s life around by using wisdom and care. What a contrast to the Pharisees who made a public spectacle of her, hoping to hit her with some rocks. They tried to trap Jesus by quoting the Law of Moses, but he didn’t take their bait. What did he do? He was silent first. Then he gave the aspiring stone-throwers freedom to hurl their rocks. Ashamed, they walked away, silenced by the Master Spokesman.
In the Book of James we’re told that birds can be tamed, but the tongue can’t. We’re told the tongue can set a forest on fire. We’re told the tongue is restless and full of deadly poison, cursing men while praising God. James also warns:
- “Not many of you should presume to be teachers because we who teach will be judged more strictly.” (James 3.1)
- “If anyone considers himself religious yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, his religion is worthless.” (James 1.26)
Wow. As someone who wants to share God’s truth, these verses infuse me with holy fear. They also help me understand that my country gives me freedoms that my God does not. I don’t have the unequivocal right to speak anything, anytime, anywhere to anyone. Quoting holy writ does not make me unequivocally right, as the Pharisees discovered. Talking is not a political issue for Christians, it’s an issue of personal purity. When I read James, it seems plain that my freedom to speak comes from God, not the Constitution.
And what could be more plain than these words spoken by Christ?
- “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12.36,37
In light of this warning, let’s be quick to hear and slow to speak. And let’s teach our children too. They are growing up in an age of rampant public sarcasm, slander and scorn that seems so normal. They, like us, can hurl words like rocks with a mere click of a finger. But our Savior – the One we want to worship this week and every day – is both our example and our judge. I sense he wants me to discover my tongue’s mute button and find freedom in clicking that.