Brad jumped up when the phone rang. "Hello?" he said. "Oh, hi, Jake. Yeah, I heard what they're saying about Mrs. Simpson--that she comes to school looking all bleary-eyed because she's an alcoholic, right? The kids say she sometimes stumbles over her words in class, and she . . ." Brad paused as he noticed his father motioning for him to hang up. "Gotta go, Jake," Brad added. "Dad wants me for something. Bye." Brad hung up the phone and looked at his father.
"You'll have to call Jake back and apologize for the gossip I just heard," said Dad. When Brad started to protest, Dad held up a hand. "Do you have any idea why Mrs. Simpson is having a hard time?" he asked.
Brad shook his head. "I don't have her for any classes. I just see her in the hall sometimes, and the kids say she drinks a lot."
"Well," said Dad, "you have no reason to believe that's true. The fact is that Mrs. Simpson's husband is dying. She has to stay up many nights caring for him. No wonder she's tired."
"Oh . . . I didn't know that." Brad looked truly sorry. Then he shrugged. "Okay,
I'll call Jake."
"You need to do that, but first come with me to my shop--I want to show you something," said Dad, leading the way. At the shop, he picked up a hammer and some nails. "Pound these nails about halfway into this board," he said. Looking puzzled, Brad pounded the nails. "Okay," said Dad, "now pull them back out." Brad did so. "Look at this board. What do you see?" Dad asked.
Brad glanced at the board. "Nail holes," he said.
Dad nodded. "Brad, words can be as sharp as nails. When you use them the wrong way, they can hurt people. When that happens, you should apologize to the people you've hurt. Hopefully, they will forgive you. You can also tell God you're sorry, and He forgives, too. But even then, you can never take back all the harm you've caused."
Brad picked up the board. "I get your point, Dad," he said.
"Good," said Dad. "Now why don't you go put that in your room as a reminder
to be more careful with your tongue."
HOW ABOUT YOU?
Are you careful about the way you use your tongue? Or do you carelessly say things that hurt the feelings or reputations of others? Remember that words leave their mark even when you try to take them back by apologizing. Ask the Lord to help you use words that bring Him glory and are helpful, not hurtful, to others.
TODAY'S KEY VERSE: Psalm 141:3 (KJV)
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
*Verse displayed is NKJV