My mom used to tell me, “Think before you speak,” or “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I mean, she was right. When words go out, they can’t be sucked back in, so contrary to how kids might normally respond to such advice, I actually took it to heart, and once in a while it saved me.
Now, kids as young as nine years old are equipped with the mini personal computers that we call cell phones, and the whole world is just one finger tap away. This should take that whole “If you don’t have anything nice to say” advice to a new level, but I think it’s going ignored all too often.
The internet makes it so easy and so fast to pipe in, to comment on people’s lives or looks, to speak your mind…and all of it inaudibly. Kids aren’t making as much actual noise, but they are saying so much more. The problem is, once you press send, it will probably be seen by other kids with phones in their hands; and just like real words, you can’t take it back.
So “think before you speak” becomes: think before you text, think before you post, think before you message, think before you comment.
And why does it matter? Because the adage “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is one of the biggest lies of all time. Words do hurt. They are a powerful weapon.
Here’s what the Bible has to say about it.
Proverbs 18.21 says,
“The tongue has the power of life and death…”
Whoa. That seems intense, maybe dramatic. But it’s true. The word “tongue” is used here because, news flash, when the Bible was written, cell phones didn’t exist. So the tongue means the words that go out from the body. These words have the power to lift people up or to tear them down.
Hmmm. Which to choose.
Well Proverbs 16.24 says this,
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Wouldn’t you rather give your friends a Dutch smoothie than a cup of yesterday’s bitter coffee or some other gross drink? And wouldn’t you rather make your friends feel good than make them feel like they want to cry or pull their bed sheets over their heads and hide?
Okay then. Press “send” less. Think before you text, post, message, comment.
-Kristen Wohlers, kids church coordinator