Last weekend, my neighbor Guillermo invited me to go with him to our apartment complex’s front yard. He was obviously excited. So, I went and watched as he harvested a head of celery. I observed that many leaves had dried. (Look at the rest of the celery on the left.) Guillermo, a retired microbiologist, explained that he had sprayed the celery with something that would make it less fibrous. Then I said, “But look what happened. It’s ugly.”
It was a pretty innocent observation, right? Wrong!
With a pained look in his face, Guillermo rattled off sentences in Spanish, most of which I did not understand. What I understood, however, was a rebuke that went something like, “How dare you call the creation of God ugly!” Clearly, I had offended a dear friend by my careless and thoughtless remark. If not for Guillermo’s readiness to forgive me, an ignorant preacher with zero gardening skills, my relationship with him would have been severely strained.
As I retreated in shame to our apartment, I was forced to reflect once again on the power of the spoken word. The Bible addresses this issue extensively and I want to share three verses that God used to remind me of how wayward my tongue had been.
“Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut and you will stay out of trouble.” (Proverbs 21:23)
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6)
“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2)
From these quotes, it is obvious that “taming the tongue” is one of the keys to having good and growing relationships. May I learn to appropriate the grace and the power of God to control my tongue–not only for my sake and my relationships with others, but more importantly, for the sake of his glorious name.
By the way, that head of celery that I called ugly? That was Guillermo’s gift to my wife Dahl!
Double shame on me.