YOU GOT A BIG MOUTH!!!
You’re just like a snake crawlin’ on the ground
Lookin’ for some new dirt to spread around
Then you stick out your tongue and start spreadin’ lies
And now somebody else has been victimized
You may stop for a while, then you’re at it again
And you always got to have the last word in
They call your mouth Almighty, tongue Everlastin’
You ain’t satisfied unless somethin’s happenin’
You don’t have to be there no more than a minute
But you always got to have your two cents in it
You got a big mouth, a big mouth!
Sound familiar? These are the lyrics from the 1980’s hip-hop song “You Got a Big Mouth” performed by Whodini. What a shame, though, if Whodini’s words were used to describe you. Yeah you! We’ve all been warned about the perils of gossiping, talking behind someone’s back, or simply talking too much. “If you can’t say something good about someone, then don’t say anything at all.” I know you’ve heard that.
As long as I can remember, I’ve held a fascination for words. After more than 23 years of marriage, I remember standing at the altar with my fiancé hearing and saying the heartfelt words, “I do.” Giving birth to my children, I remember the doctor declaring, “It’s a boy!” Then with my second go around, “It’s a girl!” Each time, those simple words changed my life. I still have the hand written note my son gave me when he was age 5 saying, “I luve you mom.” No words have been more precious. I remember too, when I received a 3am phone call with word that my husband’s father had suffered a massive heart attack and suddenly passed away. My husband was serving in the military at the time and was stationed in Germany, so I had to make the dreadful call and break the news to him of his father’s death. No words have been more devastating. That’s the thing with words, though. Words are powerful, extremely influential and most definitely have the power to change situations, circumstances, and people. Words carry a commanding authority, according to the scripture. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Prov. 18:21). And as it relates to the tongue, nothing can be more poisonous, more venomous, or more deadly than the tongue that spews gossip.
Gossip, spreading rumors or personal information about another, whether true or false, that gets more distorted each time it trips off irresponsible lip to irresponsible lip has been around for ages. I believe it’s safe to venture, gossip was once considered an official pass time as grandmothers, aunts, and other women gather on front porches giving each other the low down on everyone in the neighborhood while being sure to add their two cents worth. The temptation to talk about Mary’s problem with men, Jane’s husband who drinks too much, or the pastor with the wondering eye can be too irresistible to resist for many. Let’s face it, ya’ll know both men and women love a juicy piece of “back alley gossip,” especially when it’s bursting with infidelity, greed, and scandal. It’s so easy to get caught up in listening to or giving your opinion about someone else’s life. Whether it’s, honey child let me tell ya! Suga did you hear? Guess what I heard? Whether someone is pouring you some tea (a whole pot full), putting a bug in your ear, or dropping a dime on someone. Whether you heard it through the grapevine or over the telephone line; haphazardly dishing the dirt and spreading gossip without checking the facts can be a dangerous game. Yet, something within us wants to know about and offer advice on the blues and dirty indiscretions of others. Gossiping may satisfy something within us while we are partaking in it, but there are always negative consequences about talking too freely about someone else’s business. For instance, having a sharp tongue just might cut your own throat. Or your mouth might write a check your behind can’t cash! Another thing, most people tend to forget that “the dog that brings a bone will also carry one.” Meaning, if I will talk about someone to you, then more than likely, I will talk about you to someone else.
In today’s society however, gossip has evolved from front porches and is now everywhere. It’s on television, in newspapers, magazines, and an infestation can be found on the internet. It seems bad news is headline news and the more distasteful or sensational, the better. We’ve seen lives destroyed right before our eyes. Reputations and careers that took a lifetime to build have been completely dismantled with a negative news cycle. There is little doubt that gossip kills. Its kills three people simultaneously: the one who speaks it, the one who listens, and the one whom it is about. While you can’t control the media, you can take responsibility for your mouth—the lies you spread or even the tidbit of truth that you contribute to the conversation.
Have you ever stopped for a moment and thought about the power of your words? In fact, the words you speak can profoundly affect the ears they reach. Death and life, neither has power in and of themselves. The power lies in the tongue’s ability to speak words that produce life or death. Understand the power of your words and be responsible enough to evaluate your words before you release them from your mouth. Set an example of personal integrity, refuse to be an accessory to murder, and not gossip on any level. Instead use communication as a way to develop connections and meaningful relationships. Speak life!
Trust me; I know that it’s not easy to tame the tongue. Whether you have a big mouth or not, let your words heal and not wound. Let your words build and not destroy. Let your words encourage and not discourage. Let your words make peace and not war. Let your words be graced with the fruit of wisdom and not undergirded with ‘fool’s-talk’ and ignorance. Let your words carry seeds of sweetness and not bitterness. Let your words be season with salt and not with habanero peppers. Speak wholeness! Speak health! Speak happiness! Speak wealth! Speak life and not death! Speak it until someone listens, and lives!