Some days I really feel like Peter. You know Peter, the fisherman, disciple and apostle, and notorious for having foot-in-mouth disease. Yeah, some days, I’m just like Peter.

Hannah was relaying an account of her day as we were out doing some shopping; as she was telling the story I made a rather inappropriate and disrespectful comment about who she was telling me about. My wife was gracious enough to blow off the comment and move on with the story but it got my wheels to thinking.

Gossip and slander are perhaps two of the sins that we tend to not think about very much. In fact today people are more and more flippant with their speech to the point that it becomes hard to know what is said in jest and what is serious. Gossip is even more subtle because we all have this tendency to like to be “in the know.”

As I was reading through Proverbs 13 yesterday I found this verse to be of particular conviction:

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Prov 13:3)

Solomon is saying that those who do not guard their words are going to get themselves in trouble. For my example lets think through the effects that my “loose lips” can have.

One, my wife could think less of me. Ephesians 5 tells husbands that they are to love their wives and that wives are to respect their husbands. When I say something inappropriate like that about someone it gives my wife a reason to not respect me. Does that mean that she will be disrespectful to me? Probably not because my wife loves me and knows that I can be a little dumb some times.

Two, what will my children think about the person as a result? While we tend to ignore the ears of our children and think that they are not paying attention, in truth, they pick up on the things that we say and do. Our kids are watching and they will grow into the bad habits of their parents. I want my kids to be better than me; I want them to not make the same mistakes I make. But if I give them an example of someone who is disrespectful to other people behind their back, they are going to grow up to be the same way.

Finally, what about my relationship with that other person? How much of a hypocrite am I when I will treat them one way to their face, but then talk about them completely another way behind their back? Jesus has some pretty strong words for hypocrites, and I don’t want to be one of those people.

The solution is presented for us in Ephesians 4: 29

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

We have to be careful with what we say; the old adage, think before you speak, is very applicable here. Take just a second to plan out your thoughts and think, “Will this give grace?” For many people this may mean not saying as much! That’s okay; as the other saying goings, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Let’s be people that are known for our kind and gracious words, not as people who are hypocrites!