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.
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.