“Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the Lord; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. Whoever does these things will never be shaken.” (Psalms 15:1-4 NIV)
My day in my Grade 7 French Immersion class seemed to be going smoothly. The students were working well, they were motivated and appeared happy. We had been speaking only in French that day, and everyone seemed to follow along well, a fact that made me feel especially proud of this group of students. Only one student seemed upset, and I had no idea why. I would, however, soon learn the reason for my student’s angry demeanor…
The next morning this student came to me in my classroom before school started. Her mother was with her. From the serious looks on both their faces, I knew something was very, very wrong…
“You mocked my daughter!”
I stared at the angry mom, my mouth agape. “I—I did? Why, what did I do? I like your daughter very much!”
This statement in itself seemed to calm the waters somewhat, and as the story unfolded, it became apparent that the alleged problem was a result of a grave misunderstanding. While we had been speaking in French all day the previous day, this student, apparently hadn’t been following the instructions as well as her classmates, and she had falsely perceived that I had been making fun of her. After a bit of honest explanation, both the student and her mom were satisfied that it was all just a big misunderstanding sparked by the fact that the student hadn’t been listening in class.
As I talked to that mom and her daughter, I made sure to reiterate that I would be more than happy to help the student in class whenever she didn’t understand something adequately, and as the rest of the year unfolded, there would be no further misunderstandings and false accusations from this student.
All of us know what it is like to be accused falsely. Our words can hurt other people, sometimes without us even knowing it. It is very important that we pay close attention to our words and our actions. It is so important that David tells us that those who are closest to God are those who speak truth, whose tongues do not run people down, and who do not accuse other falsely!
The next time you are tempted to say something in anger, remember this message, along with the message of James 1:19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (NIV). Let your words lift up instead of tear down. Oh, and be sure to pay attention to those who seem to not be too happy with you. Who knows? Perhaps there was a misunderstanding that can be quickly resolved!
In His love,
(To access the entire “The Sling for God” devotional series, please click here.)