7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt[a] water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:7 - 12)
Imagine this : I told my boss that "You are stupid!". Yes, I told him that. And that was in front of other colleagues.
It was actually during a group conversation amongst colleagues in the evening before leaving for office. More like casual chat. He had packed his bags and walked into our conversation. Whilst chatting, I noticed that he was carrying a shoulder bag with his notebook in it. I knew he has a backpack solely for the carrying of a notebook but he was not using it.
In my haste and without choosing my words, I uttered "Hey XXX, you are stupid for using that bag to carry your notebook. Don't you know that it instantly attracts attention amongst the notebook thieves? These guys always targets people who carry their notebooks in this shoulder bags. You should be using the backpack. It deters them. Why aren't you using the backpack? Many of my wife's colleagues have fallen prey to thieves who snatch their notebooks which were stored in such shoulder bags. Now, they have started using backpacks and no more such incidents occured. What lah you?!"
My boss replied that if the thieves are determined, they will still rob you of the notebook in the backpack. Anyway, our casual chat with other colleagues continued and he left office shortly after. (By the way, in our office, all of us have cordial relations with one another and our bosses are very approachable).
Somehow, someway, about 15 minutes later, as I was packing my stuffs to leave office, I felt a sense of unease. An inner voice was telling me that I had used unhelpful words though my intention was good. It must be the Holy Spirit's prompting and I immediately remembered James 3: 7 - 12. I immediately prayed to God seeking His direction and was guided to seek an apology immediately.
As I left the office, I quickly sent an SMS to him telling him I was sorry for using such language against him and asked for forgiveness. I was glad he replied that he's okay with it and will consider using a backpack. Even that, I continued reflecting on this incident which I knew, God was teaching me. It is not just about uttering careless words. It must be more than that for God is constantly teaching and moulding us to be more like Him.
This morning, I told my boss that I was sorry again and he said he has forgiven me. Indeed, I was forgiven and I know God has also forgiven me for my indiscretion. Imagine if my boss would put a "black mark" on my "report card". Thank God he is the forgiving type. Otherwise, there goes my future in this firm.
Apart from this lesson that careless words once left the mouth may cause irreparable damage or break relationships, I also learnt that sometimes, this is due to our pride or lack of humility (in my office, I am the most computer literate amongst my colleagues though I am not an I.T. experts). When one feels that one knows it all, the words that come out of the mouth can border on boastfulness. The danger is that in such boastfulness or pride, one becomes immune or defensive towards other people's views or guidance in the issue at hand. Prideful people (which I confess I still am) think their views are always correct and sometimes use harsh words against those who do not agree with their views. Sometimes, those who disagree are ridiculed or cursed at. It sometimes come to a point that "I only like / love those who have the same views as me" and would disassociate with those who are different in thinking. Would that make one a better or holier person?
To love one's neighbour is one thing. To love one's enemy is probably, and I believe, a bigger virtue. An enemy is not just one who has hurt you or intend to hurt you. An enemy can be perceived to be those who pose a threat to your existence or position. It can even be the one whom you regard as being not up to your standard or intelligence. If one is unable to love and have compassion to those who are unagreeable or pose a threat in whatever nature, that makes the person no different from those they perceive to be their enemy.
I thank God for losing my tongue. For the experience has taught me to choose my words carefully and to be humble in all situations.