Then this evening came a virulent and angry e-mail from a parent who didn't like a quick note I had sent. Perhaps my short communication wasn't phrased perfectly, but the lengthy attack really caught me off guard and shook me up. I still don't understand exactly what the parent was really upset about (and if it was really just about the note I sent, then there are other issues at play), but I sure don't like the way I feel.
Words matter. Job 12:11 says, "Does not the ear test words as the tongue tastes food?" Certainly words have the power to encourage and discourage. Thoughtless and hasty words can do more damage than a physical attack. Exhortations can buoy the spirit through difficult times.
Proverbs 29:11 establishes the value of words: A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. To offer the right word at the right time is to give a treasure. Conversely, an ill-timed or ill-intentioned comment can leave the hearer broken.
The book of Samuel makes an interesting statement when it teaches that Samuel "let none of his words fall to the ground." (1 Samuel 3:19) How often to my words fall to the ground, worthless and fruitless? It is something to ponder.
I am a woman of language, so perhaps the lesson in these highs and lows is to remember that all words have the potential for great harm or great good. To allow my speech to be anything but gracious and seasoned with salt means that I have allowed myself to squander a treasure, and to be guilty of causing the same kinds of hurt that I feel when I am unjustly treated. I need to be more careful to be an encourager and to remember:
Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.