by Pastor Tim Burt
Before You Hurt Someone's Reputation
In Jewish folklore there is a story about a man who had a disagreement with his rabbi. Out of anger he spread lies and malicious gossip about him. However, one day while studying Torah he realized that God was not pleased with him and he decided that he needed to make amends to the rabbi.
He visited the rabbi and begged for his forgiveness. He said that he would do whatever was necessary to make amends for his behavior. The rabbi directed him to go home, take the feather pillows off of his bed, cut them open and scatter the feathers to the wind.
Though it seemed like an odd request, the man agreed to do so. He went home, took the pillows off his bed, cut them open and shook the contents out, allowing the wind to carry the feathers to and fro for miles and miles.
Later he returned to the rabbi’s home and reported that he had done as requested. The rabbi then said to him, “Now go and gather up all the feathers.” The man replied, “That would be impossible.” To which the rabbi answered, “You are correct. Even though you appear to be sincere in your desire to make amends for the damage you have done, it is as impossible as reclaiming all of the feathers. Once words are spoken, they scatter in the same way and no one can bring them back.”
Words are powerful. They can be used for good or for evil. A kind word spoken at the right time can comfort. A wise word spoken to a listening heart is able to save someone from making a serious mistake. An encouraging word spoken with a smile may turn someone’s bad day around. A word of warning can save a toddler from burning her hand on the stove. A harsh word can break a heart. A mean word can bring anger and doubt. A discouraging word may turn a life from success to failure. A foolish word wastes the time of both the speaker and the hearer. A word of gossip is able to ruin a reputation.
Jesus warns us about the power of words and their consequences in Matthew 12:36-37. "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
On the day that you stand before the God of heaven and earth you will answer for how you used the gift of words. Did you use them as tools to build and accomplish or as weapons to tear down and destroy? Did you use them to encourage or discourage? Did you use them wisely or foolishly? To inspire or to gossip?
Just like feathers scattered to the wind, you cannot recapture the words that have escaped from your lips to this day. But you can make sure that every word that comes off of your tongue from this day forward is spoken with care and wisdom.
Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV) "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit"
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt