Be Careful Little Mouth – Thursday, June 04, 2009 Brian Kaylor from his blog – For God’s Sake Shut Up
Last month, the decades-long civil war in Sri Lanka showed signs of finally coming to an end. As the fighting ends, some have been reexamining the various factors that led to the conflict in hopes of understanding how to avoid such civil wars in the future. Several scholars argue that one important move involved language. Apparently, the government passed an act in 1956 making the language of one of the nation’s two main people groups the only official language of the nation. This move greatly disadvantaged the other ethnic group both in terms of education and economics. Two decades later, some members of the minority group began terrorist activities in hopes of gaining independence for their people. This historical insight in no way justifies decades of violence, but it does provide important reminders about the power of language.

On a much smaller scale, some Baptists are urging churches to consider the power of words. This Sunday will be the third annual “Say Something Nice Sunday.” The founder of the focus, Mitch Carnell, explained recently to The Baptist Courier that the day is to be a time “when no Christian will say anything bad about another Christian or Christian group or anyone else. It is to be a day of affirmation, a day which celebrates our unity in diversity.” The Web site of First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina (www.fbcharleston.org) includes promotional materials for the day and additional explanations for why the focus is needed. The site explains that the focus is needed because “words are powerful. Words have the power to heal or wound. With our words we have the power to build up a Christian community or destroy it.”

The arguments offered by Carnell and other organizers are absolutely correct. Our words are powerful. Sadly, despite biblical admonitions to be careful about what we say, much of our church discourse is sometimes quite uncivil and even unChristlike. It is unfortunate that someone even thought we need something called “Say Something Nice Sunday.” What if Missouri Baptists decided to say something nice about each other? Even for just one Sunday that might be a fairly impressive feat. The slanderous charges that have often filled Missouri Baptist rhetoric over the past several years have pitted brothers and sisters in Christ against one another. It has also distracted us from what really matters and has hurt our witness with the many around us who desperately need to hear about the good news of Jesus. Rather than speaking the truth in love, it seems we too often resort to shouting the lies in hate.

It is long past time for the rhetoric to be toned down and for all Christians to be nice to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us work on being nicer to each other. Let us work on cooperating together for the sake of the Gospel. And let us focus on sharing the love of Jesus instead of being distracted by petty fights, legal conflicts, or power struggles. We need a return to Christian civility.

As children, we are taught many important life lessons through songs. One such biblical lesson is the one to “be careful little mouth what you say.” That wisdom we teach our children is one we also need to follow. Many of the inaccurate and hateful things that Missouri Baptist pastors have said about each other would get a child spanked or put in time-out for making such comments. So maybe we need a time-out of sorts this Sunday. Let us say something nice about each other this Sunday, and hopefully even the Sunday after that and the Sunday after that. For as that wise song reminds us:

For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little mouth what you say