One of her kids bumped into the table, and the vase toppled over and broke. It was an accident, of course, but she agonized over what the owner would say. How could her child embarrass her this way? The recriminations raced to her lips.
Before she could speak, she saw her friend react.
“Are you okay?”
Her friend was concerned, not for the vase, but for the child. He’d bent down to be at her level, eye-to-eye, and asked about her arm.
The child, surprised, said she was fine. Then she went off to play.
The mother flushed, stricken with shame. She hurried about, gathering the broken pieces, cleaning up the mess, reciting nervous apologies, trying to laugh it off.
There was such a contrast between the kindness her friend had shown and the words that died on her tongue. It broke her heart.
That is why the Bible warns,
“A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it! It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell. This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done.” (James 3:5-10, The Message)
Jesus said, “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.” (Matthew 34-35, NLT)
You can’t tame a tongue, and you can try to tame a heart—but you won’t succeed. The best we can do is to ask for a change of heart. That’s what repentance is for: to ask God to transform our hearts. That’s what this mother saw she needed.