We have all felt the hurt of insensitive talk - and hopefully we have felt the pain of our own insensitivity in saying something that put a stone on another's heart - I say hopefully, because it takes a hardened heart to be oblivious to the impact of one's own words.
James spends a whole chapter of his epistle ranting about the danger of the tongue: "The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth. And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature." Ouch!!
So what can we do to insure that whatever we say will only bless those listening? To start with, let us recognize this short list of no nos:
1. Saying something pleasant to someone for whom you feel sorry, for your self-satisfaction, but really not caring whether it helps the suffering one. This is common amongst those who fiercely protect their own comfort zone.
2. Sharing some news, or insight, or joke you are pleased with, without considering whether it will actually bless the listener at that moment.
3. Teaching one from the standpoint of condescension - "I am up here, and you down there, you ignorant one, need to hear what I have to say."
4. Yelling at someone out of irritation, but under the guise of waking them up.
In all these cases the common curse is self-love, rather than turning to divine Intelligence to know what is the need, and then letting Love guide us - obeying the first commandment, and the second like unto it - Love God, and love our neighbor as ourself. Is it so hard to consider, before we speak, what is our motive, to meet the need of the moment or to enjoy the sound of our own voice?
When we consider James' warning of the immense damage that can result from an unruly tongue, and then recognize the incomparable joy of true communication where love is being fulfilled in the meeting of a need, why would we not strive to live by: "Love inspires, illumines, designates and leads the way." (S&H)