Of Mary Todd Lincoln

Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” Proverbs 26:18-19

Have you ever been involved in a joke gone badly wrong? You know the kind where you intend one thing and the person takes it totally wrong. You stammer and stutter but still you can’t make amends. Of course we’ve all been on both ends of those kinds of jokes.

These kinds of jokes come in the form of emails, handwritten notes, and often verbally. The story is told of Mary Todd Lincoln who in many cases acted as her husband’s maillady. Occasionally after he had fired off a nasty letter, she would promptly trash it before she got to the post office. Why? She knew he would regret the repercussions later if the recipient had received it.

Because I do most of my day job work on a computer, I know the power of the written word. I also know the power it has when it’s poorly written. If it’s an important letter I have to write, I may very well ask one or two people to read through the letter to make sure I am saying exactly what and how I want to say something. I highly recommend it. Humor and wit in an email can come across a lot coarser than when spoken face to face.

Still, though, we need to be sure that when we write letters, the light of Christ will shine through the letter. If it doesn’t bring glory to Jesus, strike it from the text. It really is that simple.

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