“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45). “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov.12:18). “The tongue can bring death or life” (Prov. 18:21).
Dear Jesus, granted, I don’t know what preceded the outburst. I have no clue what else was going on in that dad’s heart and story, or what his young son did 15 minutes earlier. But nothing could justify the verbal assault, vomitorium of contempt, and merciless shaming that 4-ish-year-old received.
The next moment was even more disconcerting. Weaponized-rage quickly transformed into Southern-niceness, as—I’m assuming, a good friend got out of a car nearby and greeted this dad and his son. This dad’s anger temperature went from a boiling 104 degrees to 70-and-zero-humidity in a nanosecond. Jekyll and Hyde, Bruce Banner and the Hulk, and Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Grey” all came to mind. It was scary, humbling, and an invitation.
Jesus, until you glorify us, each of us is capable of shocking extremes. Your Spirit wages war against our indwelling sin, and vice versa (Gal. 5:16-18; Rom. 7:21-25). We don’t need a disciplined tongue; we need the right help, Gospel-repentance, heart-healing, grace-growth, and healthy community.
Some of us have no clue about the relationship between the traumas we carry and the great harm we inflict. Some of us are so out of fellowship with you, Jesus, we’ve become more comfortable with blame and shame, than loving others as you love us. Some of us are sleepless, strengthless, and defenseless against the devil’s schemes. Some of us now relish revenge more than we treasure you. That’s really a dangerous place.
Jesus, all of us—no exceptions, need you. Lead us to the help we need. Show us how to help our friends. So Very Amen, we pray.