Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Big Mouth = Big Trouble

Ozzie Guillen’s at it again. Seems like this guy never knows when to quit. For someone who has had their mouth get them into trouble so many times before, you have to wonder whether or not it’s possible for him to finally learn a valuable lesson: think before you speak.

In case you are out of the loop, Guillen made a comment regarding Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, saying that he “respected” the leader. This statement has caused a firestorm among Cuban-Americans who have lost loved ones under Castro’s regime. While Guillen claimed that his respect was for him as a person, because he respects everyone, the damage had already been done. The news this morning states that MLB has suspended him 5 games for his statement.

As I came to work this morning and continued work on my sermon for Sunday, I found it interesting that within the passage from which I am preaching is this verse, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God.” Wow! That’s a fairly tall order.

In context, the verse falls in 1 Peter 4 where Peter is writing his letter and imploring people to love each other deeply, using their gifts to help and to serve one another. How carefully we have to choose our words. While I feel like I have said this ad nauseam, talk is cheap even though there’s no way for us to retract words that have already been spoken. I sincerely fear for the next generation if they have role models who think that careless talk can be easily fixed with simple retractions.

I have had some times in my life where my mouth has gotten me in trouble. Pride won the day and I did not bridle my tongue, and I reaped the consequences of that. Words are powerful and can be interpreted so many different ways. Our language is versatile and that can be a blessing and a curse. Body language speaks volumes and in this day and age of electronic communication, the lack of body language, voice inflection, and simple face to face conversation can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings.

I am sure that I will experience additional times in my life when I will say things that I regret, but I have certainly worked hard to keep my mouth under control. I think back to the Disney movie “Bambi” when Thumper told that timeless truth that still stands: if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. While it’s a bit of an oversimplification, there is a lot of truth to it.

I don’t know what will happen to Ozzie Guillen, whether he will learn a lesson or not. My fear for him and any of us that might let our mouths get the best of us is that people will just stop listening. They will have come to expect useless things from our mouths and they will choose to ignore us rather than think that we have anything valuable to offer to the conversation. I hope that I don’t come to that place. I pray that I would use words as if I were speaking the very words of God.

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