If it’s not true, kind or necessary, you don’t need to say it. –My Mom
I’m sure mothers the world over have been saying this to their children since time began, I imagine Eve said something similar to Seth when she found him teasing a younger sibling. I have found myself often repeating my own mother and telling my children that the comment they made to me about someone they saw in the grocery store wasn’t necessary; or that the “harmless” word my son used in talking to his sister wasn’t kind, usually because of how he said it, not always what he actually said. I have also recently found myself having to correct my two-year old daughter that it’s not nice to say “nya nya nya” in a sing song, whether or not she’s actually teasing.
In this age of social networking where we have access to many sites created just as a showcase for the “latest thought off the top of our heads”, I have also found myself repeating my mom’s mandate to myself— when I come across a person who annoys me, when I’m frustrated at something I’m working on, or when I’ve just “had it up to here!” with something I see as a rejection of God’s truth. If it’s not true, kind or necessary. It may not be kind to tell someone exactly what I think of their politics, it isn’t necessary I share my view of XYZ with the person who posted something about it on Facebook. If I’m more concerned about sharing my own opinion or knowledge, is it really truth? Where do we find truth?
The Scripture verse my mom would always cite when teaching me and my siblings about how to love each other in word was Philippians 4:8–
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
I don’t know about you, but this has got to be one of the most difficult passage of Scripture to LIVE. “But I really, really want to tell that idiot where he’s wrong!” The debate goes on in my head, and sometimes I slip down the slope from the quiet, grassy Philippians 4:8 knoll and fall in the mud of self-righteousness or know-it-all-edness, and put MY thoughts out there, forgetting that I’m supposed to be meditating on those things which are lovely, honorable and virtuous… and speaking truth to one another in love.
It’s so easy to fail, but so imperative that we succeed. When I DO succeed and am able to either say something pure and of good report, or am able to move past my baser instincts of “virtual yelling” and ignore the itch to write a nasty comment, I end up with a better outlook for the day in general. I end up thinking about the positives, giving myself time to mull over a thought-filled, logical reply (if needed), or just being able to ignore the written sneers at my beliefs and realizing that nothing I can say will change the heart of a fool. (Fool being the term used in Scripture to denote someone that consistently mocks God and God’s word.)
Thinking on that which is beautiful should be a habit; for then I can show grace and love to others as I ought.
Simul Iustis et Peccator
What a great reminder. It truly is hard to live with, especially when the internet does afford a cover so we can imagine that there are no consequences to our careless words.