“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov 12:18)
Someone said to me recently, that “You have to get pretty close to someone to stab them in the back.” It’s true enough. No one is overly concerned with the mean words of someone they hardly know, but it is the “wounds of a friend” that slip under the radar and catch you unaware – their’s are the words which can wound.
Jesus knew all about words that wound. Think of how he confronted Peter (in Mark 8). Peter had had the breath-taking insight that Jesus was the “Christ, the son of the Living God” and Jesus acknowledged that this revelation came straight from God. But then, just a little while later, as Jesus explained the path of suffering that he must take, Peter rebuked him, saying “Any way but that.” And Jesus said “You are minding not the things of God but of men.” From heaven to earth with a bump.
So Jesus identified the source of the word spoken to him, and refused it. He loved the speaker but hated the speech, so to say! When someone speaks to you, you have to consider the origin of their words. Does that word flatter, cajole, encourage….does it irritate, debilitate, depress? A deeper question is: Does it mind the things of God or the things of men?
Jesus instructed his disciples. (in John 20): Whatsoever sins you retain, they are retained. If you remit them, then they are remitted. It’s like holding a grudge. You have to decide to hold it.
Sometimes when a wounding word comes, you shouldn’t get too hung up on the speaker, or even on your friendship, but on the word itself. And if it doesn’t “mind” the things of God, then release it. Refuse to give it house-room.
With the best intentions in the world, friends can say “Oh, you look so poorly!” “How are you, under the circumstances?” “It’s a hard time for you.” Or they may even say outspokenly foolish things “It’s just your way. You’ve always been like that” “without realising that they are minding the things of men. And they are planting something on you which you should not receive, something which needs to be silenced.
Let no corrupting talk come out of my mouth, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4:29), and let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)