This isn’t my favorite, I’m not gonna lie.
All my life I have struggled with my tongue. Saying the right thing. Not saying the wrong thing. Slipping up and saying the wrong thing anyway. Half the time purposefully.
In my younger years, I was known for being sarcastic. Didn’t really care if it was hurtful if I could get some laughs from others. (Never mind if it was really because I felt insecure myself, putting others down to draw attention away from my own flaws.)
Then I became a Christian. It was far from an overnight transition, but slowly my words became sweeter. I would think about the impact on others before I spoke. I realized that my sarcastic jokes actually hurt my friends and I stopped making them.
This change made a huge difference in my relationships. In the past, thinking I was oh-so-hilarious, I would make the same sarcastic jokes with guys, and then wonder why they didn’t reciprocate my affections. Wasn’t I hysterical? Didn’t they get the joke? Probably they did. But they didn’t want to spend time around someone from whom every other word was harsh.
When I met my husband, I knew I needed a different strategy. He is a sweet guy who, like anyone, appreciates kind words and encouragement, not jokes at his expense. I try to be his biggest cheerleader and affirm him at every opportunity that I can (full disclosure: he still thinks I’m sarcastic, so I guess I have some ways to go).
Score one for relationships, but oh boy, work is a whole other matter. I get angry and frustrated. It rises up within me like a tidal wave and I find myself going from zero to sarcastic in less than 60 seconds. I am right. They are wrong. How can they not see it? Are they stupid? Do they just want to make my life difficult?
See, taming the tongue is really an issue with its root in the sin of pride. It is putting our feelings – our sense of justice or our desire to be seen as “funny,” our belief in our own rightness or our belief that our right to free speech matters more than someone else’s right to not be hurt – ahead of everything else. We are so wrapped up in our emotions that we can’t see beyond them to someone else’s point of view.
To draw a contrast, Jesus did not get sarcastic. He got angry, but in His anger, He did not let the sin of pride overwhelm Him. He did not let emotions get the best of Him, or let his anger become a personal attack on others. He was controlled and measured in His response, always remembering empathy and caring, even when He was persecuted.
I confess that I am not there. But I want to be.