I kind of wonder if Joseph was just really cocky or really naive when he told his brothers about his dreams. Did he say it like, “Hey guys! Listen to this cool dream I had! I had this dream where all your sheaves of grain bowed to mine. And then I had this other dream where the sun, moon and stars all bowed down to me. What do you suppose it means? Whatever it means, it sounds pretty cool, huh?”
Or did he say, “Hey guys! Listen to this dream! Heh, heh, heh. You guys are all going to bow to ME someday!”
Well, however he said it, he got into trouble, not only with his brothers, but with his father as well. Everyone got upset with him. Which just goes to show that there are times when it’s better to keep your mouth shut, even if you think God is telling you something.
There was a friend I once knew when I was in university, who one day went up to a girl at church that he really liked and said, “God told me that I’m going to marry you some day.” Her immediate reply was, “Well, God didn’t tell ME that.”
As it turned out, they never did get married. But I think my friend learned his lesson that day.
The book of Proverbs talks a lot about watching what you say. Among them are verses such as “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)
Joseph would’ve been wise to have heeded those words. His brothers were already jealous of him because his father favored him more than them. But instead of saying things that calmed them down, his words pierced their hearts like a sword and only made them more angry, because it seemed like he was shoving his favored position down their throats.
How often do we say things that, instead of bringing healing to our relationships, bring more hurt. It’s very easy, especially when we’re fighting, to say hurtful things to others. “You’re so stupid! I can’t believe you! How could you have done such an idiotic thing! You’re so inconsiderate! I’ll never forgive you for this!”
As another verse says in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” What kind of words come out of your mouth? Are they healing to your relationships? Or do they tear them apart?
It’s difficult sometimes to hold our tongue, especially when we’re angry. But other kinds of words can be hurtful too. Gossip can do great harm to a relationship. It says in Proverbs 16:28, “A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends.”
Sarcastic or mocking words can also do great damage, even if said jokingly. I’ve gotten into trouble more than once for that. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, and am still learning, it’s this: “It’s much better to build up in love than to tear down in fun.”
In our culture, we sometimes delight in making fun of our friends. Roasts at weddings or other events are somewhat traditional. But sometimes when you’re tearing down in fun, you hit a chord in a person that you didn’t expect and you can really hurt them. But when you build others up in love, people always come away from you blessed and encouraged.
What comes out of your mouth? Blessings or curses? Hurt or healing?