James chapter 3 in The Message Paraphrase says this:
"A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything-or destroy it!"One might conclude that this is the "permission" to speak clause. But, he goes on and says this later on in the same chapter:
"Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor."On the one hand, if you say something, even if it is true, someone's feelings are going to get hurt. If you say something because you see others being disrespected and taken for granted does that change the situation?
Tough call to make sometimes. It's an even tougher call to make when you are dealing with the people closest to you. Hard truths are tough to hear sometimes. They're even tougher to deliver! But before delivering that "hard truth" we have to stop and ask ourselves what is our motive behind saying something? Is it simply because we don't agree? Is there a bit of ego behind what is driving us to feel that we have to say something? The motivation matters. Can we say what we have to say while still treating the other person with honor and dignity?
I don't think that James was implying that we should never speak up. I do think he was warning us to carefully think it through BEFORE we open our mouths. What we may think is insignificant, others may see it as a way to build them up or tear them down. Our words should be chosen carefully.
The bottom line to this really comes back to loving our neighbor as ourselves. If we treat other people with honor, dignity and respect. If we think before we speak or act-well there would be a lot less train wrecks waiting to happen! Speak the truth, but do it to build people up, not tear them down. If you have to bring something up in order to correct them, do it in as loving a way as possible. Hopefully, when you or I stick our feet in our mouths, others will be kind enough to do the same.
Words really do matter!