It happens to the best of us: Our mouths spew out words that our minds had not yet finished processing. They come across ill-timed, poorly phrased, and seasoned with a hint of scorn. We say things we don't mean, or think we don't mean. Then we remember that Jesus taught the words of our lips reflect the state of our heart (Matthew 15:18). Wicked hearts mutter wicked words. Gentle hearts speak sweetly. And the fool appears wise when he remains silent.
By some combination of old jealousies, older grudges, angry eyebrows, strong metaphors, and restricted time limit, I turned an opportunity to encourage a body of Grace College students into a unplanned offense. (Did I say I have angry eyebrows?) Within an hour I was called by a local church pastor asking about my speech. By the end of the night, the chaplain had me on the phone to schedule a meeting about my message. By Sunday morning, I was exhausted, emotional, embarrassed, and sad.
With vague detail, I confessed the situation to my church family. They are versed in my tone and furrowed brow. One man burst from his chair, rushed the pulpit, and demanded prayer for me. Later he told me, "I've never seen you so grieved before." Others asked for full disclosure, wanting the drama to give pulp to my apologetic statement. One guy shared an original poem with me, showing how we own our failures is as much a testimony to spiritual maturity as our triumphs in godliness.
In the end, my sin allowed grace to abound through others. Would I give the same chapel message again, so that grace might abound? Certainly not. (And they won't ask me back.)
But I'm glad grace abounded on this occasion. It helped erase the bitter aftertaste that my foot left in my mouth.