Earlier I shared about the impact we are having on the ones around us, if any at all. Today, we're going to look at our representation. Our representation as students, brothers, sisters, parents, teachers, employees, co-workers, and most importantly as ambassador's of Christ.
I'm going to take a look at our tongue and how we use it. How it can be used to set a good example and how it can be used to tear down someone who seems they've already lost it all. Everything we say has a result. You cannot speak without your words having an influence on those who hear.
If you have an opinion about someone and you share that biased view with someone else, your opinion will affect their view on that person. But it depends on how you say it. If you speak about a person in harsh, brutal words to someone else, how are they not expected to take on a bit of the anger you feel upon themselves? All of a sudden your opinionated view of a person has been passed on to someone else who is just trusting your word. Even still, why do they need to hear it, what is your purpose for talking about this person behind their back? Should there ever be a good reason for that?
Maybe you need to just get it off your chest, but maybe consider telling someone who doesn't know this person directly so that they can offer non-biased advice and won't be directly affected by the information you tell them. Either way, the words that you use to describe this person that you're angry at are a representation of Christ. If they know you are a Christian, what kind of example are you setting? Something to think about.
Why do we feel like we have to yell at people or get angry? Can we not control ourselves enough that we have to lash out and flip at someone? If someone does something or says something to you, or you simply don’t get along well with them, is there no better way to deal with it than by taking it all out on them, making fun of them, putting them in their place, complain about them to others. The next time you get ticked off, first ask yourself if they really intended on ticking you off. The thing that is bothering you might be second nature to them and they have no idea that they are frustrating or angering you. Even if they purposely do things to set you off though, is flipping out at them the right way to deal with your anger. Is telling them that they’re stupid, to shut up, or doing equal or greater damage to them as they did to you representing Christ. As cliché as it may be, how about that over-played wristband asking ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ There’s got to be a better way to handle tough situations and controlling your temper.
How about referring to something or someone as 'Gay' 'Retarded' or other words used to degrade them. What about claiming hatred toward someone or something. All of these things affect the people around you. It's so important to think about what you're saying before you say it because you never know how it will influence those who hear you.
If you and I are studying for an exam and it is 2am in the morning and it seems like we're only half way through our notes, let’s say you get angry and yell 'this is so retarded; I just want to get to bed.' Your choice of words may have no effect on you but what about me. Maybe there's something you don't know about me, maybe I haven’t told you about something. Hypothetically speaking, I had a brother who was clinically mentally challenged. He spent his first two years of his life in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and needles that were keeping him alive. I would come home from school and wait countless nights for my mom to come home at 10pm because she was trying to work enough hours at the local burger joint trying to get enough money to pay for my brothers health care as well as put food on the table because my father ran out on us after a year of not being able to face the challenges that came along with my brother. I spent my weekends working like crazy to help my mom out, and the only thing that kept us going was the thought that we might be able to someday have a full conversation with my brother who still couldn't even spell his own name at age 15. And finally three years ago, the doctors found an incurable problem in the right side of his brain and my brother passed away.
...no one can predict the type of impact their words might have on a person.
Hypothetically speaking again, I have been involved with the Big Brothers community and this older guy has taken me under his wing to play basketball with and just hang out and talk. We're really getting along well and I feel I could tell him almost anything. I look up to him, admire him, and our friendship means a lot because I feel he would never forget about me or hurt me in any way. There was something on my mind that I really needed to talk about, and I knew I could share it with him so I went early one day before our afternoon of basketball and stood with him waiting as he was in the middle of a story that he was telling his buddies. He was talking about this guy he saw in the grocery store who walked a bit different, wore tight clothing and had a voice that was a bit distracting... in his words "this dude was so gay, what a fag." Wait, wait, hold on. Did I hear him right? All of a sudden, the thing I wanted to talk the most about is now the last thing I could ever discuss with him. I was dealing with homosexual thoughts myself but how could I ever talk to him about this now. I respected this guy, I trusted him, but I now know I could never trust him with everything. He'll think I’m a huge queer and talk about me behind my back like he was talking about this other guy he saw. He'll never want to help me out, he won't listen, he’ll just laugh and then back up and away from me as if I had some deadly, contagious disease. I thought I knew this guy, but I was wrong. I’ll never be able to share anything with him now.
Whether we like it or not, whether we mean to or not... our words can either build a man up or tear him apart. We represent something greater than a student, employee or family member. We represent God in everything we say. Do the people around you see you as a gossiper, someone who flips out on the smallest of things, a person who swears his mouth off, a person who insults when thinking it's just a joke? Or do they see you as a listener, someone who cares, someone who is honest, trustworthy and watches their tongue. Who are you? How do you represent God?