Sometimes I struggle for words.
I can’t think of exactly how to state something, describe something, define something.
Other times, words just pour out of my mouth or through my fingers onto the keyboard.
Occasionally when that happens I end up wishing I could take them back.
This happens in personal relationships as well as in public life.
The reality of the 21st century is that our words can instantaneously have a far-reaching and durable life of their own.
Our words can make it around the globe in less time than it takes to log off of Facebook or Twitter.
James 3:8-10 tells us that the tongue is small but mighty. James warns us that “no one can tame the tongue – a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.”
Our words, whether well-chosen and reasoned or hasty and shot-from-the-hip, have power.
We won’t always choose the right words.
But we should still try our best and ask for forgiveness when we don’t.
Those around us won’t always choose the right words.
But we should seek to forgive and offer reconciliation when they don’t.
Today I ran across a TED talk that told the story of an Auschwitz survivor whose last words to her brother were harsh and critical. She was 15 and her brother was 8.
She survived the Holocaust.
He did not.
Her vow: “I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.”
We never know if we will get a chance to clarify, reverse or apologize for the things we say.
Maybe we will.
Maybe we won’t.
Our last words last.