Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32
A co-worker with seniority gave me information for a report I was doing. It was poorly thought out, full of misspellings, and incomplete. I ranted about it for over 50 minutes; correcting it took about five. Suddenly I heard my parents’ admonition: “If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
As a child, I never understood how “not saying anything at all” could be helpful or realistic. Now I am beginning to see the value of silence. James writes that the tongue is “a fire, a world of evil” (3:6), saying, “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (1: 26).
As part of my Lenten resolve to give up criticism, I decided to put a rein on my tongue. It was hard! I had to stop before speaking, realizing that my opinion did not always need to be shared. I had to practice saying something positive, even when my critical eye saw negative.
While my own standards might be high, God’s are higher. Even on the road to Calvary, Jesus showed love to His confused disciples (see Mark 9:30-32). My Lord always is compassionate toward me, a miserable sinner. I know my own efforts will fail. But empowered by the Holy Spirit, I can practice daily putting on Christ’s “clothing of compassion” (see Colossians 3:12-14).
Prayer: May my tongue … and actions … always confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen.
Response: Say something kind about someone with whom you are having difficulty.
(Devotions from "Cross of Ashes" by Christine Weerts, a Lenten devotional provided by Lutheran Hour Ministries. Copyright 2005, Int'l LLL. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend.)