“Don’t even bring up her name! The mere mention of it makes my blood boil!”
“I can’t believe he went behind my back like that! I’m so angry I could spit!”
“Girl, I haven’t spoken to her in years! Let me tell you what she did to me…”
“I know he didn’t mean it that way, but it still hurts.”
Ever been guilty of saying those words or something like them? Hurt feelings. A wounded heart. A broken confidence. We’ve all experienced them — and caused them.
I remember years ago when a woman confronted me with an illustration I used in a Bible study. It was an inspiring story involving a mutual friend. She felt I was wrong in sharing it and called to tell me so. Even though I told her I had our friend’s permission to use the story, I couldn’t quite get her to see my side, so I gave the old “we’ll just have to agree to disagree” response. She wasn’t satisfied with that. She called another mutual friend and had her call me about my error.
Now, I hadn’t known the first caller very long; I had known the second much longer. We were very good friends and I was hurt that she had taken a side against me. After I explained the situation from my viewpoint, she became confused. She agreed that what I had done was not wrong but still was “disappointed” in me. For what, I had no clue.
I confess to you that this was one of those times when God took over. I believe he literally put His hand over my mouth and kept it shut. This was certainly not something my flesh did on its own! I found out later that the underlying problem was not with me. The woman who initiated all this actually did not like the friend in the story and did not want her to get any accolades for Christian love and service! But the damage was done: my good friend (the second caller) and I were never as close as we were before that time.
Though my heart was wounded, I refused to nurse any bitterness toward these two women. One was a new Christian who was still living in the flesh; I knew she’d grow out of it with time, Bible study, and prayer. The other was being deceived and I had to trust God to open her eyes. Again, it was God who put this attitude in me. A few years later, just before she moved away, my friend confessed to me that she had been deceived by the other woman, that she’d been told things that simply were not true, and she apologized to me. She mourned over her mistake; I mourned over the years we had lost as intimate friends.
In this story, God supernaturally kept my mouth shut, kept things from escalating, and put in my heart the desire to pray rather than retaliate. Oh, I could have shared a story about when I didn’t keep my mouth shut and things really blew up — but there were just too many of those stories to choose from! But I wanted to show you (and to remind myself) how faithful God is to fight our battles for us and to heal our wounded hearts.
Let me just say that James was absolutely right when he wrote that the tongue “is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts…”(3:8). The tongue is such a minor part of your body but it can do major damage to the Body. How much stronger the Body of Christ would be if all its tongues were kept under the control of the Spirit!
Author Kate McVeigh has said, “When you have a wounded heart, don’t nurse it or rehearse it, but curse it and disburse it, then God will reverse it!” That is so true! It is also true that it’s easy to say but hard to do! So I think I’ll just continue to seek God’s help, regularly praying, “Lord, please shut my mouth!” David put it much more eloquently when he wrote:
Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil…