It was a particularly tough football game, and nerves were on edge. The home team had been the victim of three or four close calls, and they were now trailing the visitors by a touchdown and a field goal. When the official called yet another close one in the visitor's favor, the home quarterback blew his top.
"How many times can you do this to us in a single game?" he screamed. "You were wrong on the out-of-bounds call, you were wrong on that last holding call, and you failed to say anything about a late hit in the first quarter!"
The official just stared. The quarterback seethed, but he tried to suppress language that might get him tossed out of the game. "What it comes down to," he bellowed, "is that YOU STINK!"
The official stared a few more seconds. Then he bent down, picked up the ball, paced off 15 yards, and put the ball down. He turned to face the steaming quarterback. "And how do I smell from here?" he asked.
There are so many times when it is hard to "bite the tongue" and say nothing. The urge to say "something" seems so overpowering that the words sometimes erupt before we have a chance to think them through. Unfortunately, those words have consequences. The minor offenses result in 15-yard penalties. The more serious offenses result in years of regret and heartache, or perhaps broken relationships that take years to rebuild. No wonder James has such strong words of praise concerning the person who is always able to control what he says (James 3:2).
"He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive" (Prov. 17:27-28).
May your words today be few, calm, and carefully thought out.