I remember being invited to dinner with a number of people. Afterwards one couple complained about their kids; it had been one of those days. The next day I found out that one of the other couples who desperately wanted children had suffered a miscarriage. Oops.

Or the time someone came into church Sunday morning and people were not their usual sociable selves. She said, “What’s the matter? Did someone die?” Well, they had. The missionary the small congregation helped support had been murdered the night before in Thailand. Oops.

Putting your foot in it, as they say, is rarely funny. People get hurt very deeply, at points at which they are most vulnerable.

So when you blurt out something that turns out to be truly offensive or hurtful, what do you do? Apply what Jesus said, “Always do for other people everything you want them to do for you. That is {the meaning of} Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 God’s Word).

Apologize, reconcile, humble yourself, empathize, accept the anger and pain from those you hurt and ask God for healing.

But in the end the better course of action is to control your tongue. For instance, “{Like} golden apples in silver settings, {so} is a word spoken at the right time” (Proverbs 25:11 God’s Word). What a wonderful ideal to aim for.

Ships “are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go. In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things. A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame. The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell. People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures. Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison” (James 3:4-8 God’s Word).

So you want to be a servant of Jesus, and may even think you are doing not too badly. Well, remember this, “Whoever thinks they are religious but can’t control their tongue is self-deceived; their religion is worthless” (James 1:26 my translation).

Think before you spout. Love before you speak. Humble yourself before you pronounce your “wisdom”. Talk to people, not about people (which would be gossip, a particularly vicious use of the tongue).

And above all, let your words reveal your faith, not your sin!