I would never take a stroll with an artist through his studio and start judging his work.

Can you imagine? Walking along and commenting to the one who created each canvas, saying, “Oh, that one is lovely… but that one really sucks… I love the colors you used in this one… but man that one is stupid.”

We wouldn’t do that, right?

And yet we do. In big ways and in small ways, every day.

We walk through this world that God masterfully crafted and we judge his greatest creation, his people.

That person is so annoying! I can’t stand her. He is absolutely insane. What a jerk.

It might be someone in the car in front of you, or someone you see on TV that you’ve never even met.

I’ve been guilty. How about you?

Today’s memory verse is from James 3:9 (NLT), “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.”

Not only do we belittle the Artist’s work, but we are criticizing his self-portrait. Yikes.

It’s got to stop.

I know, I’m like a backwards activist– telling people to just be quiet. I believe in what Thumper’s mom used to say in the movie Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

Yes, we have to have freedom of speech and be allowed to openly call out bad action when we see it in our communities and in our national government. But imagine what that would look like if we always cushioned it in understanding and compassion.

When my kids come home from school and complain about a teacher, the first thing I always say is, “We have no idea what she is going through right now. If she’s being so grumpy, there must be something going on in her personal life that we no nothing about.”

When they complain about a kid who is being mean or disrupting the classroom I say, “Gosh, I bet there is something going on behind the scenes there. Maybe learning is very hard for him, or the people in his house don’t value him the way they should so he doesn’t know how to value others.”

We can carry on the conversation to figure out tools to deal with difficult people, but first, we have to acknowledge that they are people— and that in itself makes them special and important creations of God.

Even if they don’t know Him, He knows them, because He created them. In His image.

Boy… I feel like I just went on a little rant there. Sorry about that. My point is this, if we want to live in a world that’s lighter and brighter, we have to bring the light. We have to measure every word that comes out of our mouths — or that’s typed out with our fingers — because once they’re gone, we can’t get them back, and we can’t begin to imagine the damage they may cause.