Something I always say is, “A smart man knows what to say. A wise man knows whether or not he should say it.” Every day, we make decisions on what to say and what not to say, or perhaps more often we decide what we think is worth saying. Most of the time, however, we find that the things we say were better left unsaid. We seldom realise how eternal words are. When we say something unkind or rude, we have feelings of wanting to take it back, but we can’t; the words are already out there and nothing we do can ever take them back. Before we say something or post something on social media, we seldom stop and think, “Is what I’m about to say really need to be said?”
Being cognisant of what we say and putting a guard on our mouth (Psalm 141:3) does not need to be thought of as a sullen thing. We simply need to be more cognisant of what we’re saying, or about to say, in light of the current circumstance. For example, as a future pastor, people will be coming to me about their sin. If the man comes to me about committing premarital sex and he’s guilty and shameful about it, would it be wise for me to preach to him the Law? Of course not; he already knows that what he did is wrong, which is why he’s coming to me in the first place. Rather, it would be wise to preach the Gospel to him—the forgiveness of sins given to us for the sake of Christ, no matter what we have done because nothing we ever do can earn that forgiveness and so, instead, we are forgiven for Christ’s sake. Scripture has a lot to say about our speech, but for the purpose of this conversation I will only bring up Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The only talk that should come out of our mouths is that which builds people up, “as fits the occasion,” or similarly the circumstance as I stated earlier.
Let’s use the recent tragedy of the Orlando Massacre as an example. Countless politicians and angry citizens are using the tragedy as a platform to push forward their political agenda, whether they’re speaking and posting against Islam or stricter gun control laws. However, they’re focusing on the wrong issue. This tragedy, and others like it, is not a legal issue. It is not a social issue. It is not a political issue. It is a deeply spiritual issue. What good comes out of using this tragedy as a platform to push forward one’s agenda against Islam or to demand stricter gun control laws? The world already knows that these are issues, and yet neither of those are the issue here. The issue is a strictly spiritual one in that evil is responsible. Islam and the shooter’s chosen weapon may have been the tools in which he used to commit this heinous crime, but the issue is ultimately in his heart. It is the evil inside him that pulled the trigger and killed in the name of Islam. Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). Surely not just how one speaks, but certainly also how one acts, for the heart not only determines what we speak but also how we act.
How we react to such tragedies is not to use it as a platform to push forward one’s political agenda. By doing that, evil has won, for the reactive words that have come out of some peoples’ mouths and posts were not words of love and compassion, but words of hate and anger. I am not denying that gun control laws and the deep-seeded message of hate in Islam are issues; those are problems, but it goes deeper than that. And how we react as Christian citizens needs to ultimately reflect Christ. My pastor and I prayed for the victims and their families tonight, and he brought up 1 Peter 3:8-9: “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” Now is not the time to discuss gun control laws or issues with Islam, and Jesus does not call us to respond to evil with evil or revile others for reviling. Instead, He calls us to bless others by showing sympathy, loving them, being gentle with them, and being humble before them. Instead of using the tragedy to push forward our political agendas, let us rather pray for the victims, for our country, and even for our enemies according to Jesus’ words (Matthew 5:44); and let us especially bring the Gospel to all these people. Neither is it the time to make known the sin of homosexuality; the sin is already known. Let us instead pray that the surviving victims come to faith in Christ.
In conclusion, some psalms that I recommend that each of us individually pray, or you can pray them in groups, are Psalms 6, 55, and 85. Read them out loud, and if you’re with a friend, discuss each psalm. If you’re alone, take some time to meditate on each psalm and even continue to pray in conversation with God.