February 8, 2011 by Stacy McDonald

Are You a Recovering Razor Mouth?

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The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but the lips of a fool shall swallow him up…(Ecclesiastes 10:12)

I wrote Smoking Keyboards and Razor Mouthed Christians after a long period of conviction and trial. My “personality” is to be bold and direct with little thought to who I may offend. For many years, my natural inclination was to “speak the truth,” defining love only by how boldly I spoke; rather than how much grace my words contained. My attitude was often, “I’m ‘standing up for the truth;’  it’s your problem if you can’t take it.” Have you ever done that?

This often made  my words “sounding brass” (1 Corinthians 13:1) and actually kept people from hearing what I was actually trying to say – regardless of whether or not it was right. Some of this was immaturity; some of it was pride.

Do you speak the truth in love? Or do you simply speak what you believe to be true, and then define that as love?

However, God in His mercy, brought me through a painful trial that helped me to see my own sin. He showed me that the goal of all my communications must be saturated in a genuine desire to glorify God AND love my neighbor. We can’t have one without the other. The two goals are interconnected, and if we try to separate them, the result is always sin.(1 John 4:20-21)

If our primary purpose is to truly see God glorified, and to see the hearer come to repentance and glorify God as well, then we will be careful to make sure that our own attitude, pride, and “right-ness” doesn’t keep others from seeing the Truth we claim we’re defending.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23–26)

If we indeed want to communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His righteousness, we will emulate Him (Psalm 145:8-9). We will be attacked without being offended; we will be misunderstood without becoming sarcastic; we will be falsely accused without retaliating; we will love without being loved in return. Who can do this? No one. Only Jesus in us. (1 John 4:4-8)

I fail at this every day.

Oh Lord, help me to reflect your love. Let me decrease, so that you might increase. Help me to speak the truth boldly and without compromise…and in love…without pride. Help me to remember just how small I am compared to You – how helpless I am without You. Help me to extend mercy by comparing myself to Your holiness, rather than to the sins of those around me. And help me to grant them the same grace and mercy I hope to receive from You (Matthew 7:2).

If you’ve been guilty of this, you are not alone. But God is rich in mercy and able to forgive. Let us stand boldly for the Truth, compromising nothing; but, let every word we speak, write, or type be conveyed in grace, seasoned with salt, and drenched in genuine humility.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works… (Hebrews 10:19–24)

I wrote this article after a long period of conviction and trial. My “personality” is to be bold and direct with little thought for who I may offend. After all, I’m “standing up for the truth;” it’s your problem if you can’t take it.

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23 Responses to “Are You a Recovering Razor Mouth?”

  1. Lisa Grace says:

    I love this; so full of precious wisdom. I am sharing this, too :) Thanks.

  2. Theresa says:

    This was very timely for me and something that I really need to remember. This is my prayer!

    “He showed me that the goal of all my communications must be saturated in a genuine desire to glorify God AND love my neighbor. “

  3. alH says:

    Thank you, Stacy. I’ll post this as a sequel to my post of your first one.

  4. Beth says:

    Wow. You have no idea how much I needed to read this. I’ve been struggling with just this very thing. Thank you for being God’s instrument to me today.

  5. Lori Devine says:

    Thank you for the wise words!

  6. Deanna says:

    Great post Stacy…I am a recovering razor mouth…yes, indeed. Thank God for His grace and mercy.

  7. Mary R. says:

    Oh, yes, I’m definitely a recovering one! You know, most of the time, we don’t realize how we come across. Few of us are deliberate razor mouths. Like you, we think we are speaking the truth boldly, but end up coming across as caustic and condemning. I think blogging has helped me to recover from this malady. There is nothing like getting a reply (like you never would in real life) telling you just how you came across (at first, I didn’t quite realize there was another person on the other end of the computer, just thought it was like an impersonal letter to the editor column!), or going back to re-read one of your own comments and realizing how awful it sounded, and then having to take it down or apologize!!! It has made me think twice about what I am saying and how I am saying it.

  8. Charity says:

    While I appreciate very much your admonishment on this subject..
    This very idea is being used and many ways to silence the truth..

    The world tells you when you have absolutes you are “judging” or shoveling your truth down their throats..Now the “church” is doing the same.

    Yes everything is to be done for the Glory of God!!

    Sometimes when we do speak the truth in love it is still received as a sharp rebuke and not in love at all..

    When I see the gospel and scriptural truth being twisted and false..I believe it is our duty to challenge that using the scriptures..

    When Jesus rebuked Peter and called him “Satan” that was sharp and to the point was it not??..

    I believe we need to express Biblical truth and say it clearly and kindly!!
    We should be received by the hearer with a hearty “Amen” when it is understood as truth no matter what..

    This is a very confusing time in the life of the church..People are becoming just like the world and do not want to here anything that might make them uncomfortable..

    All scripture is given for an inspiration ..It is profitable for rebuke and correction in righteousness..2tim.3:16

    This are my thoughts on this subject and I believe you are a wonderful person with a great ministry..:)

  9. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Charity –

    I’m not describing how anyone should judge another person’s words on whether or not they were “loving” enough; I’m specifically talking about examining our own hearts and motives when we communicate Truth. If a Christian wants his neighbor to be turned off to the truth, then by all means, he should speak the truth with arrogance, pride, and sarcasm. I see this happen a LOT – for some reason, especially in our Reformed circles. This is sin and it keeps others from the Truth.

    In no way, do I mean we should sugar coat the truth, compromise the Gospel, or water down our message. Again, our boldness, like our love, should emulate Christ’s.

    And anyone who knows me, knows that I speak about the worldliness in the church without mincing words. I’m not saying that should change. :-)

  10. Jill says:

    I appreciate your honesty on this — I have been on the receiving end (as well as my daughter) several times from the same person, of someone’s “razor mouth.” I always try to keep my heart open to my own faults, so I don’t discard the judgment of another person when they confront me. But the way in which it is done makes their words totally useless to me. The anger in which those words come, the attitude that the other person is a “victim,” the insistence things must be done their way, all cause me to lose respect for the message and ultimately for that person. It hurts and alienates. Yes, I pray for that person, as Jesus has said, but only out of duty, not out of any compassion (yet) that my heart may feel.

  11. Belinda says:

    Yes. I read the title and that was my immediate answer. Not to glorify my sin but to say I love to read and be convicted of things such as this to keep me from continuing on my idiotic path. Sometimes I forget that to be “for” life is to remember that every life, even the ones I think are wrong or have wronged my children, are indeed precious and I need to teach my children the same things. I need to hold my tongue way more often than I do. To be lovely and gracious and contagious should be my goal. Thank you for the reminder.

  12. Stacy McDonald says:

    And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:23–26)

  13. Joenne says:

    You will never know how much I needed this article. I have been going through a horrific storm of false accusations and attacks against my personhood. I have wondered if my silence toward these things is just being stupid, or if it is really best to just say nothing. God used this article to show me that He is my defense. I am happy and at peace now, that I have nothing to say. Besides that, there is none that is good, so even though the accusations against me are false, there are many things I could be accused of that might be true.

    I also like the warning you give about just speaking the truth and calling it “in love” because it is the truth. All of our words need to be seasoned with His love, or others will not hear.

  14. Tiffany says:

    I find that sincere, self-examining (i.e. letting the Holy Spirit have his way during prayer), repentant prayer BEFORE speaking the truth nearly always results in a God-given, true, heart-motivation of Love. The Love I can’t work up to on my own.

    It’s easy for me to speak the truth, but not necessarily without that pride – I struggle daily with this one. Totally related to your post.

    In those moments that I actually DO take the time to really seek the heart of God – even if just for the length of a breath – more often than not, I find a plank in my own eye, and very often I find the Holy Spirit leading me to prayer first, and speaking later on. He saves me from myself so often…

    I’m not that great at it, but I’m growing.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Oh my, this speaks to me in such a huge way this evening! I actually got out of bed to jump on the computer because I couldn’t find a scripture I was looking for in my bible. After finding what I needed (but didn’t really want to read) in Prov 26:17 about not getting involved in others arguments, I landed on this posting. Earlier this evening I got involved in something that was none of my business and did so only because I wanted to “one-up” one of the gals. Ugh, disappointing. It’s an ugly thing to see and yet I’m so thankful that He’s convicting me and loves me enough to change me. I’m sure a year ago it wouldn’t have bothered me to do such a thing.

    I am perfected and am BEING sanctified. I’m sure glad He still is more gracious than I am.

    Your post was very encouraging- thank you for sharing.

  16. Pat says:

    Jesus got the truth of his message to the woman in sin being stoned, but it is evident that she heard the love. He did not condemn her, and neither did any of her accusers in His presence. Hearts know the difference between genuine love, unconditional love, and ‘my way or the highway’ love. Our understanding of that unconditional love of God(except we really only understand a very small portion) allow us to love others unconditionally and helps us to see that Our opinions or our interpretation of the truth is not truth, just my opinion. And the greatest of these is love. My sharp tongue has never led anyone to the foot of the cross. But being empty of my own opinion and filled with God’s love and Spirit, wisdom and understanding, that is what the attraction is. When Jesus is lifted up!

  17. Hollie says:

    Thank you for this encouraging admonition! I needed this reminder and conviction.

  18. Ezerinstitute says:

    This morning week in my quiet time with God I have been getting rhemas regarding my tougue. God has used you to remind of to speak with graciousness and gratefulness so others can hear Him not me. May God bless you as you fully surrender to Him in this area, too. :)

  19. Laura l says:

    I was thinking about what you wrote and how important it is when i heard a sermon yesterday on Renewing Your Mind called ‘Be angry,but Don’t Sin'(February 9 can be heard online with Lingonier.)
    It stuck me when he said that the one he gets angry with the easiest is his wife. And i realized that the people that i care about the most ,and the Biblical principles that i hold dearest are the ones i am the quickest to speak out instead of ‘being ‘slow to speak’. Psalm 141:3 says to “Set a guard , O LORD , over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips” . I cannot speak, if , my heart is not right(verse four ) and i also must be willing , in the correct way, to not only give a reprove ,but to be willing to receive it. ” Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness and let him rebuke me; it shall be an excellent oil.”(verse 5) It is part of ‘let each esteem others better than himself.(Phil. 2:3,4)
    “The nail of reproof must be well oiled in kindness before it is driven home.” (from Treasury of David)
    In his book, Soul Winning, Spurgeon said, ” The object of some professors seems to amputate the limb rather than to heal. Justice has reigned instead of mercy.” (page 302)
    If i am slow to speak, i realize, many times, that it would be better for my husband or the one in authority to do the speaking.
    However, as an older woman, to the younger woman my duties include using my tongue to admonish, to teach, but not to slander(Titus 2) . It is a struggle . I fail. i have to ask for forgiveness. ”
    Lord, keep the door of my lips that it move not creaking and complaining as on rusty hinges, for want of the oil of joy and gladness.” (Treasury of David)
    Thank you for your post and others for their comments.

  20. WOW. This is very good. I often find myself feeling guilt after *telling it like it is*…I then realize that I didn’t glorify God, but I might have succeeded in making an enemy. I am truly praying about this, and trying to let the Lord work the change in my life in this area. I think this, for me, is just mostly bad habits that I have let get out of control. I’m also trying to not be so loud and laughy…my tongue is surely a little flame and kindler. THank you for sharing. :)

  21. LisaL says:

    As always, your posts know right where to convict me. I truly thank you. Its like you know me or something!:)

  22. Cynthia says:

    I’ve “been there, been doing this” myself for some months now, too.
    Good post.

  23. Yvette says:

    This is so wise and true. Sarcasm is something I fall into regularly, particularly when I don’t stop and think first. I’m new to being a Christian, but even when I was Jewish the principle of ‘guard your tongue’ was one I was familiar with. I think now though, when I call on the Holy Spirit to assist me, He does.

    It’s slow going, and I’m a work-in-progress but posts like yours and the subsequent comments are so uplifting and encouraging. Thank you!

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