Have you ever quoted an old saying, only to ask yourself afterward, “I wonder where that originated?” For some reason, which I do not yet understand, the saying “if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, don’t say anything” has been burning in my heart.
I do not subscribe to the conventional “wisdom” of the original saying. It doesn’t call you to a place of maturity or action. It doesn’t challenge you to make a difference. It says that if you don’t like someone, hang on to those feelings, just don’t verbalize them. Harboring negativity about people is unhealthy. This doesn’t mean that you start hanging out with people of questionable character. This doesn’t mean you start dating the neighborhood crack dealer.
The other day, I posted my own twists to the saying on Twitter. First, if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, ask God to let you see them as He does. Gaining a godly perspective is an instant reality check. We need to humble ourselves. We need to allow God to give us wisdom, laced with compassion. Compassion, rooted in wisdom. Rather than hold on to, but stifle your words of negativity, pray for them. Pray for blessings in their lives. Pray that God would do whatever it takes to get a hold of their lives and turn them around.
Second, if you don’t have something nice to say about someone, would friendship with you be a positive influence in their lives? In a spirit of humility and honesty, really consider this question before you answer. Again, I’m not suggesting you put yourself in harm’s way if the person is dangerous. The question is more of a challenge to be introspective of your condition. Are you in a place in your life where you are a positive influence to people who so desperately need a good example?
We are often quick to hold others to high standards, while giving ourselves a pass for some glaring inconsistencies. Be humble. Be honest. Be wise. Put on your God goggles and start seeing things from His perspective. It will change you, and you will make a difference in the lives you touch.