From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham
Most people at one time or another have apologized for something they’ve said. The reason in most cases is that people don’t first stop to think about the words that proceed out of the mouth. It may not be because of trying to deliberately hurt someone or to be malicious. It may not even be part of a serious conversation. Nevertheless, reckless words roll off the tongue. Once spoken, the damage is done. Words spoken or written are difficult, if not impossible, to take back.
Jesus warned that people will have to give account one day for every careless word they’ve ever spoken (Matthew 12:36). Those are sobering words. But the answer to reckless words isn’t to try to keep silent! Instead, the Bible says, we should seek to speak graciously, because the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).
We must guard our tongues, and use the tongue for good instead of evil. Many relationships have been destroyed over hurtful words or criticism that spiraled out of control. Friendships have been broken because of angry thoughts that slip out. Harsh words can’t be taken back; no apology can fully repair the damage.
Jesus Christ wants to be ruler over every part of our lives, including the tongue. We should commit our speech to Him, and ask Him for the wisdom to know when to speak and when to keep silent, and to use the tongue to encourage and help others.
(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)