Today I have been thinking about Words. Yes, words. Funny topic, when that is all I can produce from this keyboard of mine, when that is all you get to read from me this sitting, all my mind swirls with most of the day, all my poor little mouth can generate for me.
Facebook, full words, got the best of me today. I was reading a post by the local newspaper—it told me that FIFA had suspended Christine Sinclair for a few games because she complained about a referee following the ever-famous Canadian-U.S. Olympic soccer game. The newspaper asked if the followers thought it was fair. And really, what were they expecting people to say??? Was it worth even reading the responses? But something in the back of my mind caused me to read the responses—something that told me, maybe FIFA was on to something.
Before you think I am crazy, let me tell you I DID watch the game!!! I saw what those refs were doing!!! Don’t think for a minute that I wasn’t sympathizing with those Canadian gals! But in between all the people sharing—or should I say that they were pulling out the “what about freedom of speech” line and bashing FIFA quite harshly—there in between all of that, was a comment that resonated with what my gut was gurgling around. A paraphrase of what a certain commenter said was this: he said it was fair. He pointed out that, yes, it was a poorly refereed game, but that athletes are taught to just play the game and show sportsmanship. He pointed out that Sinclair is a role model for kids across Canada and that those little ones (and can I also add, maybe the big ones too) need to know that it is not okay to challenge a ref. He asked if we wanted to give athletes—or parents for that matter—the okay to “give it” to the refs.
Maybe this resonated with me because one of my “friends” had posted only a few spots down a video about bullying and what the words of some “too cool” middle school students did to the life of young girl. She’s no longer on this earth to tell about it.
And then a few posts later was a question asking if followers thought the school districts were doing enough to stop bullying. And I was appalled by the language used and attitudes portrayed in some of these replies!
And then I got to thinking about what freedom of speech really means. And I don’t think it means we can say whatever we want whenever we want to and to whom ever we want.
Believe me: I am a gal with opinions! When I was younger I spoke these opinions all too quickly. I still do. I’m learning the art of thinking first. I’m learning to use some intelligence and understanding first, because words are all too powerful, and I’m not sure we always know how to use them or receive them correctly. So I need to learn.
I could read the book of James daily just to learn a little bit about wisdom and my words. A very key thought for me comes from James 3:10: “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.”
And Proverbs—I could spend hours studying that one, too!
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.
. . .but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Although everything in me wants to side with the fact that the refs acted poorly and that justice should be done—I want to side with the complaints!—I am also called to act a life worthy of Christ. Although I want to be “political” and boast in my freedom of speech, I am also called to remember the millions of kids in schools today who are wounded by the words so freely tossed out both on a whim or with the intention to hurt that scar so deeply. Although I want to be a popular voice for those feeling injustice soaked up by the media, I am also called to relentless love for those whom the heart of Jesus is breaking for—those truly feeling the pangs of injustice and the wrong-doings of inequality.
I’m convinced that there is a right way—a wise way—to voice your opinion or belief. I don’t want to be a person known to “give it.” I don’t what to raise children who think it is okay to toss around words so lightly. I don’t want the world to see just another complainer. I believe that the words that emerge from my life have to reflect the One Greater than I who IS the Word. And because of that, I need to use caution, care and persistent wisdom, so that my tongue doesn’t act as a sword, but as light and salt.