Not too long ago, it was brought to my attention that a young lady who is kind of a friend of mine (friend in the sense that we grew up together, now have kids that are the same age, and often have conversations that go beyond regular small talk, which makes us more than mere acquaintances, I suppose) has been dogging me behind my back. From what I was told, and I was not surprised as this young lady talks about everybody, her negative comments had to do with my appearance, particularly my hair before I got it relaxed.
What did I do when I found this out?
I laughed merrily.
Even in my awkward years–during my early teens to around my junior year in high school–my self-confidence was pretty doggone steady. I surrounded myself with good friends who were able to look past the huge glasses, acne and terrible braces, and see someone who is LOYAL, someone that if treated well, will be their friend for LIFE. I played sports, and of course if you’re a part of a team your teammates don’t care about your appearance as long as you are supporting them and doing your part.
Then there is something wonderful about getting older. As I’ve matured I’ve become even more self-confident. I can readily admit and accept that there are tons of beautiful women in the world. God knows how to create beauty, does he not? It doesn’t bother me that there are other women in the world prettier than me. Number one, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. God made me how he wanted me to be, and perhaps he allowed me to have the glasses, braces and acne and get dogged by some people in order that I might appreciate the ones who loved me in spite of. Perhaps my experience gave me special insight. Or hey, perhaps dragging me gave the person doing the talking a momentary boost in their obviously low self-esteem. If so, have at it (shrugs). If their name is not Jesus the Christ or Matt G. (my husband), I couldn’t care less what anyone thinks of my appearance, 100% of the time. I’ve learned that people with positive self-esteem don’t talk about people a lot, especially their appearance.
This young lady claims to believe in Jesus and I have to accept her statement. She has also made other statements about God, so I can only take her at her word. Part of me believes that Christians have to be careful what we say, because we know the Word. Some of my favorite Scriptures about the tongue come from the book of James, particularly chapter three:
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water” (3:1-12).
As small as the tongue is, it is an extremely powerful weapon. On one hand, it can be used positively to speak good words and preach the Gospel. On the other hand, it can tear someone down. Wars have been started based on something that has been said. And not only that, words can be misconstrued or misunderstood, and a battle can begin. The same tongue that blesses God should never bee used in cursing another person.
Another of my favorite verses on the tongue also comes from James:
“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (1:26).
Part of me wants to say that of course believers should be careful what they say, but then I think about something else–if you are the type of Christian who easily tears down the brethren with your tongue, there is something wrong with your mind, but not as much as there is a problem with your HEART. Christians are to be filled with the love of God. The love of God will cleanse you of negative thinking if you so allow it to be done. The love of God will keep you from dogging out your brother or sister if they appear unkempt, or if their hair is not as laid as YOU think it ought to be. When a negative thought about another person enters your mind, the Holy Spirit will remind you of a few things: Maybe that person is happy with the way they look. Maybe they are having a financial problem right now, and that’s why their clothes are outdated. Maybe they were running late this morning and it was more important for them to be on time than to look perfect.
Or my personal favorite: It’s not your business.
This was me in eighth grade. It is one of my least favorite school pictures, but underneath the acne, glasses and braces, I was the same person (in terms of personality) that I am now. Those who were able to look beyond the exterior found a beautiful interior. And for those who couldn’t… ah well. My life goes on 🙂