Scripture Reading: Matthew 15:10-28
Then he called the crowd to him and said to them, ‘Listen and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.’ Then the disciples approached and said to him, ‘Do you know that the Pharisees took offence when they heard what you said?’ He answered, ‘Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if one blind person guides another, both will fall into a pit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ Then he said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth enters the stomach, and goes out into the sewer? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.’ –Matthew 15:10-20
Words matter. Sometimes how we say something is as important as what we say. Once said words can never be taken back. We filter everything we say through our own understandings, which our hearers, even our closest relatives or friends can never fully know. I broke my nose in high school playing volley ball resulting in a permanent bump below where my glasses sit. I broke it again in a fall last spring, and my bump got even bigger. I am again a little more self-conscious of it, not as bad as when I was a teenager. Sunday in Sunday school my class watched a DVD with a very handsome actor playing the part of Paul. As we began the discussion, I quipped, “For some reason, I thought Paul was not particularly attractive, had a big crooked nose or something.” I caught just the slightest reaction from one of the participants who was born with a crooked nose. I think she is quite attractive rather regal, but there is nothing I can say to make the results of my comment better now, and I could make it worse. God sent a messenger to redeem some of the damage I did. My friend and I sat together in church. An older gentleman walked by, patted her on her shoulder and said, “It is good to see you, beautiful ladies, today.”
We live in a world where we lay our instant thoughts out for display on social media uncensored. I think it is easier to do because we do not have a person looking back at us. Text messages to be brief may seem curt. There are some uncensored messages meant only for God’s hearing. We might want to take advantage of prayer as a means of cleansing our souls before we communicate with others. God knows us fully, can help us clean our filters, and make our communion with God’s other children more productive in both spirit and truth.
Prayer: Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips*
and my fingers or stylist on a keyboard or screen. Amen.