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In one of my favorite SNL skits, Will Ferrell portrays longtime Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray. In it, Ferrell says, “Heck, I’m curious like a cat. I have a couple of friends that call me Whiskers.”
You know what they say, “Curiosity killed the cat!” That’s not entirely bad since I’m more of a dog person anyway.
We are a curious people, for sure. So curious, in fact, we use our words to explore and probe; to satisfy our curiosity. I’ve been on both ends of this at times.
We make subtle (or not so subtle) remarks to people that on the surface seem harmless, but they tend to cut deep:
- Why would you wear that?
- I didn’t realize we were having an ugly sweater contest today.
- Why would you do that?
- What’s wrong with your kid?
Several years ago, a friend came over and made light of how a food item had been presented. They suggested it had my name all over it. In reality, Lori was the one who prepared it. So in one seemingly light-hearted statement, we were both on the receiving end of their contempt. As insignificant as it seems, little jabs like these can be extremely hurtful.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Our words have the power to hurt or heal. So often, we speak without ever giving thought to how people receive it. What if the purpose of our thoughts and words were meant to build others up? I’m reminded of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
As Paul says, our words are meant to build others up. Everything we say, we should say to meet their needs, not to satisfy our curiosity. This isn’t to say there aren’t legitimate times in which we challenge or ask tough questions of people as God prompts us. As I often say to my daughter, it’s usually not what you say that gets you in trouble, it’s how you say it. How and why.
- What are some ways you’ve used your words to satisfy your curiosity?
- What are some ways you’ve been hurt by the curiosity of another?
- What are some ways you can begin to build others up with your words?