Pastor’s eNote: Why One Mouth Is Plenty

Scripture focus:

Do you share the very best you have to offer when chatting with friends both in person or on social media? It’s easy to join in the gossip or talk about the news story, and super easy to click the share button on anything! Maybe a little too easy. 😉

Do you consider how what you share will impact others before you speak or click? Or is the transaction so fast that you couldn’t possibly consider anything but the next funny, ironic, disturbing thing to share?

God gave us the ability to communicate for good reason. Consider the basic design and function.

  • We have two eyes with which to see; right and left for sharper focus
  • Two ears with which to hear both sides; of your head
  • One mouth with which to speak; strategically between your heart and your brain

Could our Creator have thought it is twice as important to look and listen than to speak? Is our filter system designed to ensure we have heard and viewed clearly prior to engaging the mouth? Does what flows from our mouth need to be measured as much by the heart as the brain?

Ever consider the wisdom behind the design of the mouth?

Our mouth is a door through which the body takes in nourishment; what we need to survive and to thrive, as well as what we enjoy. It has this built in thing called the tongue which participates fully in the intake measuring degrees of spicy to hot, sour from sweet, bland to salty and through testing and time will discern what your body will and will not take in based on what is palatable. Remember, you have to chew on it a bit and sense the flavors and how it all tastes before you swallow it and it becomes part of you.

Yet what comes from the mouth, our WORDS, isn’t always judged the same way. We don’t always chew on what we will ask others to “swallow” via ear (or eye, on social media). What we say does become something others will chew on and decide whether or not it will become part of them.

How often do your gab sessions or social media feeds steal your peace?

Consider the Divinely inspired wisdom from a fella who learned a lot about attaining and retaining peace, disciple Simon Peter, in a letter to new Christians who were being persecuted for identifying with Christ…

I believe that scripture tells us that others need nourishment from us; words of encouragement, words of grace, hope, and yes, words of guidance.

It’s how we serve the words that matters.

The fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control show through in our words as well as our deeds. Gossip, put downs, judgement are all shared by speech or written word. It’s just too easy and acceptable by the world to use our words for harm. We are not meant to harm. As United Methodists we are bound to Wesley’s rules…

Do no harm. Do good. Stay in love with God.

If our words were tasted before leaving our mouth (or pen or keyboard), would our words become more palatable to the ear (or eye) of another and become the nourishment they require? I didn’t say agreeable, I said palatable. Which means it’s more realistic to be digested (considered) when it’s served in a way that leads one to “chew on” and to “savor” rather than spit out altogether. When we try a new food we tend to carefully take it in, engaging many senses; take a long, hard look, a thorough sniff, a slow trip across the tongue, and careful chewing unsure of the power needed to break it down for processing. The care in which we take in food required for nourishment is needed to fully appreciate everything it has to offer! And everything we’ve ever eaten and loved was once a food we had never heard of or tried. And in some cases, heard of but thought was icky.

On the other hand, what if your favorite meal was a thick, juicy steak with crisp fried potatoes? What if someone invited you to dine, prepared your favorite meal but then served it up on a greasy, dirty, stinky garbage can lid? Doesn’t matter how delicious the food might be when the way it’s served turns your stomach.

Frankly, some will spew words so rude, disrespectful and disgusting that it’s clear they were never intended for a positive outcome, just a release of their own bluster. I call it “word vomit”. Yes, it’s a thing. It’s a term I employ to describe harshness spewed that is so vile it’s not worthy of taking in, but it was never intended for anyone’s good anyway. Kind of gross, but so is the intent so I guess it’s a fair term.

WHAT IS THE TAKE AWAY?

If we care as much about what comes out of our mouths as what we put into them, we must take the time to taste our words before serving them to others.

Ghandi said that we must live the changes we want to see in the world.

Certainly we can all agree that one of the changes we would like to see concerns how we speak to one another. The words we choose may be the ideal place to begin. As much as you may wish to demand others use kinder words with you, you’re limited only to controlling your own. The hard part is not allowing the actions and words of others to control your words and reactions. Use those eyes to see from another perspective. Really listen to and consider both sides. And when full agreement cannot be met, agree to disagree respectfully. Others cannot hold you in contempt for not being equally disrespectful when you don’t cave to pressure to go against your core beliefs. And they might learn by your example what loving, mature and constructive discourse looks, sounds and feels like in the process.

Work for unity, not uniformity. We were created to be unique on purpose.

Challenge: You know the old saying, “engage the brain before you engage the mouth”? Add a Jesus filter, too. Engage the heart as well as the brain. Speak words of hope and encouragement. When you offer guidance, ensure that direction mirrors the way that Jesus offered guidance.

Whether spoken or typed, taste your words before serving them to others.

See you at church!

~ Pastor Theresa