Updated: Mar 7, 2019
by Kim Cimuchowski
Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? Just go back in time and erase what you said? You either said it out of anger, frustration, just lack of thought or real hatred. We’ve all done it, once we’ve thought about our words and give pause to what we said we realize we shouldn’t have said those words.
We did an experiment with the kids at church recently and gave eat child a tube of toothpaste. We had them squeeze some toothpaste out of the tube and then asked them to try to put it all back in the tube. We gave them tools like a toothpick and a Q-tip to help. They tried many different ways of stuffing the paste in, including blowing back in the tube with their mouths. But in the end, we all agreed that we wouldn’t be able to get it all back into the tube.
The point was, that once we have said something we can’t take it back. There is no replay button in life and we can’t undo what we’ve said. We can say we are "sorry" but that doesn’t take away the words we have said. We can be forgiven but even that still does not undo what we have said.
This is a hard lesson to learn. We may have lost friends or hurt family because of harsh words. But it’s truth. God’s word talks about this over and over again. Proverbs 15:1 reads "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger". I think we’ve all experienced this. We may have been rushed or frustrated or just not thinking, but in "the moment" we can react to someone harshly. If we took time and thought about our response, the situation would probably end up differently. Rather than reacting and saying something harshly, a better way is to think and respond in a gentle and patient way. 1Samuel 15:22 says, "But Samuel replied: 'Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.'" In this case God is saying, He prefers that you obey or do things right rather than apologizing by offering a sacrifice later. In laymen’s terms, do what I say, don’t disobey and then ask for forgiveness.
It’s not easy though. In fact the Bible says this…James 3:7-8 "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison." I think this means that we will not come by this naturally. This is something that’s going to take a lot of work and some time.
We can’t go back and undo what we’ve said but we can move forward and try our best in the future.
Slow down- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Listen- My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry... James 1:19
Respond, don’t react- A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2 "Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him."
And lastly, when you’ve said something you shouldn’t have said, ask for forgiveness and then ask how can I help? This will go a long way with those you have hurt.