Alright, even I can sometimes pick up on a running theme in something I'm reading. This morning I'm still in Proverbs and Romans, and I have to say, I'm ready to move on. Neither one of them are my favorites, I mean, I love reading Paul but he loses me in the circles sometimes. And Solomon, if Solomon wrote the Proverbs, was obviously a very wise man, but they're short and very choppy. You would think my adult ADD would love that.
This morning, the theme that kept popping up in Proverbs 10-12 was this idea that what comes out of our mouths actually has some bearing on how life works out for us. I don't know. Here's some:
"A gossip betrays a confidence but a trustworthy man (or woman) keeps a secret"
"With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbor..."
"The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood..."
"An evil man (or woman) is trapped by his sinful talk..."
And..."From the fruit of his lips a man (or woman) is filled with good things..."
I've found that a lot of folks are really good at keeping up appearances, but that every now and then, the real feelings that are buried deep in the soul, pop out. We joke and call them Freudian slips or whatever, but for me, it's more like we are getting a peek into the parts of themselves that they try to keep hidden, whether it's their true feelings about another person or situation, or whatever.
I've especially noticed this in the Church, not the church I'm serving now, but in others. And if you don't believe it's there, possibly even in your church, bring an idea to a board meeting that will rattle the rafters. You see, we are really good at playing nice, but as the pastor, I'm the one that folks come to when they're "concerned" about what someone else is doing, or about something that is going on in the church. And, as a pastor, I've heard some pretty nasty things being said about other church members. My job is to listen, discern what is fact and what is not, and then decide if it's something that I need to take action on, or if it's really not going to throw the earth out of tilt. I have to say, sometimes it makes me physically sick.
But I'm not just picking on the Church. We're a human institution just like a lot of others. This kind of stuff is everywhere. I guarantee it's in your workplace. It's in your circle of friends. It may even be in your home. The things that slip from our lips can cause someone else a lot of pain, but we let it happen anyhow. When it does, though, and you tell me if I'm lying, there's this feeling in the pits of our guts because we know we've messed up. Then we try to cover it up by saying, "Oh, I didn't really mean that." or "Oh, that came out wrong." Sorry, I'm not buying.
And I've been guilty of it...a lot. I've said a lot of really stupid and hurtful things to folks I care deeply about. As soon as it was out of my mouth, I found myself grabbing into the air trying to get it back, but it's too late. So...what do we do?
Well, a lot of the stuff the writer of Proverbs mentions seems intentional, that's an easy fix. We can just keep our mouths shut. The little slips, I'm not so sure is such an easy fix, but they can be just as damaging. Maybe some conversations are in order about the things we really feel but try to keep suppressed. If there is honesty up front, there is no need to guard against the little slips of the tongue. Perhaps we could just remember that no one is perfect, not even me or you, and that folks just will not be able to live up to our expectations all of the time.
Or, here's one, maybe we could remember that we are brothers and sisters, and that we have been created in the image of a loving God, one whom, even when he was on earth, betrayed, beaten, and crucified, no evil was found in his mouth. Just something to chew on this morning.