If you knew the last thing you said to someone was going to be the last thing you said to them, would you still say it?
That is the question I posed on facebook the other day after a suicide, again, touched my life. Life is so short, so precious, and we never know the impact that our actions/inactions, how our voice/silence may have on someone’s decisions, someone’s life.
Many times we see snippets in the media about this person tweeting something, that person posted about (insert controversial opinion) and is now retracting the statement and apologizing for how their words hurt and/or insulted someone. So why do we even say it? It's not like "I'm sorry." will take away the pain we've caused.... Sure, it may make it easier for us to sleep better at night knowing we retracted our offensive statement or apologize for our obnoxious behavior, but it doesn't erase the memories or the pain that our words, our actions caused. Why do we feel justified in putting it out there in voice, in print? What ever happened to the good ol’ cliché phrase “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
1 Peter 3:8 (NIV) says “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”
To be like-minded: agreeing in opinions, goals; compatible, harmonious, of one mind
Sympathetic: feeling/showing sympathy, understanding (see Sympathy)
Sympathy: the act or power of sharing the feelings of another, compassion
Love: to have a deep tender, ineffable feeling of affection toward a person
Compassion: deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it
Humble: meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, spirit; not arrogant or prideful
So, how does following what Peter tells us have anything to do with speaking out against someone? How does it justify telling someone that their life-choices will land them in Hell, and how does it make it any better to try to apologize (on FB no less) after they've already died? We don't have the right to treat anyone with anything less than compassion, sympathy, love... in following Jesus' footsteps, we are called to walk in humility, to love, not to judge.
Think before you speak. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and really, really ask yourself if it's worth it. Think about who else is around you, who else is reading your tweets, fb posts, and blogs...