in is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.
For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.
A professor of mine in seminary suggested that a good practice for believers and pastors was to write an email or letter in response to people and events which illicit a strong emotional response. He suggested that most of the time, upon reading and reflection and a good night’s sleep, we would likely choose not to share them at all. I can confirm, as can many of my friends, this is true. I’ve often employed this strategy when it comes to responding to issues that come up with the boys and school in particular. I’m likely on good terms with the teachers and administrators at so many schools more because what I never say than what I have said.
It would be easy to share this wisdom as a personal suggestion of how to employ a restraint measure personally in our own lives. But anyone who has ever taken a safety course from driving to job training to protective services or self defense will tell you that good training is not just about how you can and should conduct yourself, but how to respond to others, often those who are not trained or poorly trained. It’s not enough for us to practice restraining our own words or actions, but to be aware others might not. There is no greater grace we can offer, nor witness to our own faith, than to treat the rash or unthoughtful words and actions of someone else as an e-mail or letter we can toss in the rubbish bin.
The book of Hebrews assures us that God chooses to forget our sins. What a promise and example. This week, I saw a Tweet from a writer sharing the harshest response from his editor he’d ever received. One whole paragraph had a slash through it. Imagine saying something rash and hurtful and receiving a knowing look and the words from that editor, "You obviously needed to get that out of your system. We will never speak of it again." Imagine that moment between a parent and teenager. Imagine a spouse or family member immediately regretting their words and being reassured it will be ignored or intentionally erased and never brought up again. Imagine a friend or a coworker doing something foolish in the heat of the moment and we have a chance to say it will not alter or destroy the love we choose to offer and the grace we commit to offering permanently and without cost. We are called to exactly that kind of discipleship. Try it. Commit to it. God promises it is transformative.