Friends, have you ever stuck your foot in your mouth and said the wrong thing at the wrong time in the wrong way? Sure, you have; I have done the same. The Bible says, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:2-8).
What makes it worse is that a lot of the times we say the wrong thing out of anger. As Christians, we must always be concerned about the possibility of our words and actions being done out of anger (Eph. 4:26-27). We must remember that words spoken and deeds committed out of anger cause us to be hypocrites whose mouths both “bless our God and Father…(and) curse men” (James 3:9-10). Even more importantly, using our tongues out of anger causes us to “defile the whole body”(James 3:6), both our own bodies (i.e., our reputations and the respect others have for us) and the body of Christ, his church (Colossians 1:18), God’s temple that we must never destroy lest we be destroyed by God in eternal hell (1 Corinthians 3:17; James 3:6b; Matthew 12:36-37).
Love is the solution to the problem of anger. If we truly love others, we will do our best to avoid offending them with loose, angry, unkind, bitter words and actions. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5’s definition of love teaches us that we will instead be very patient with them. We will speak kindly to them and be kind to them. We won’t be jealous of them. We won’t brag about ourselves to them. We won’t be arrogant to them, and we won’t be inconsiderate of their feelings by speaking rudely to them or being rude to them.
Moreover, if we truly love others we won’t allow their loose, angry, unkind, and bitter words and actions to take away our love for them. As love continues to be defined in 1 Corinthians 13:5-7, we see how this is so. Instead of being defensive, we will not seek our own. We will not be easily provoked by being extremely sensitive. Because love thinks no evil, we will always assume that others have the best intention…until their unrepentant actions prove otherwise (Matthew 7:16-20; Acts 26:20; 2 Corinthians 7:11). Our highest priority will not be getting our own way or winning the argument, because love is more concerned about truth and doing what’s right. We will put up with snide remarks and rude slights, because love bears all things. We will give others the benefit of a doubt until their actions prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who and what they really are. Love hopes all things, so we will look for the best in others, and hope for the best in them. Because love endures all things, we will endure all things…including hurt feelings by unkind and unthoughtful words and actions.
Jesus told us to love each other in the same way he loves us (John 13:34). It is only by this that the world will know that we really are Christians (John 13:35). Loving each other – and showing our love through the ways we talk and interact with each other – is not only our duty, but our blessing!