Embarrasing Texts, Careless Speech

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. – Ephesians 4:29

This Sunday I am continuing a sermon series on peacemaking. Intentional or not, many conflicts begin with words. We have to be attentive to our words, including our texts. I’ve had some awkward moments with texting.

Claude-Guy Halle, “The Deliverance of St. Paul and St. Barnabas”

One reason we now call cell phones smart phones must be how they help us text. The auto complete feature spares us the cumbersome task of typing entire words and sentences. Instead, it finishes them for us. Auto text suggests one or two word replies to an incoming text. Auto correct is handy when we don’t use proper spelling or grammar. 

These are helpful features, but they can create problems. I’ve learned the hard way that if I don’t keep a watchful eye on my phone, I risk sending humorous, ridiculous or embarrassing messages:

A few years ago my mother in law’s dog unexpectedly died while she was visiting. I texted a trustee asking if it was okay to bury my mother in law in the back yard. Fortunately the intended message was clear.

A parishioner invited me to lunch one day. I responded to his text by explaining that I couldn’t because I was imbalanced. I meant to say I was unavailable. A friend texted that he was at his mother’s funeral. Because of auto text, I inappropriately replied “That’s great!”

These are examples of what can happen when we don’t pay careful attention to what we are communicating. Perhaps they also teach a broader lesson: We must be very attentive to the words we say (or text) and how they are received. Regardless of our intentions, words can have a lingering affect: We can build someone up with our words just as easily as we can tear them down. Proverbs 18:21 reminds us not to underestimate the power of our words:

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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1 Response to Embarrasing Texts, Careless Speech

  1. Sharon Worthington says:

    Great post!!!!!!!$

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