A friend of mine recently posted this as his Facebook status: "I can't wait to get my family back!" I immediately responded with "Is there a ransom involved? Can I be the team sniper?" Another of his friends posted the comment "And with the help of Celebrate Recovery, you can!" A little joking went on, and I posted that I also could have taken it that he was going to exact some level of revenge on them, but I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.
So one single statement could be taken at least four different ways. Basically, there can be a HUGE difference between what is said, what is meant, and what is heard.
Scripture talks repeatedly about the tongue. It's referred to as a deadly poison, a fire and an unruly evil. Even words spoken carelessly can do harm, which is why we will be held accountable for every idle word.
As Christians, we have several responsibilities regarding speech, whether verbal, written or electronic. First, we must always speak the truth, but it should be said in love, not condemnation. Our words should point others to Jesus, not make ourselves look better than someone else. Second, we must be careful with our choices in how and what we speak. We must never condone sin, but that does not mean that we are called and charged to point out everyone else's specks. Listen to the Holy Spirit. HE knows the condition of the other person's heart and will guide you in what to say. As part of that, try to put yourself in their place. Imagine how you would want someone else to speak to you. Finally, eliminate any misunderstandings. If there are four ways that your sentence can be taken, confirm which way you meant it!
And lastly, if someone else has said something that hurt you, try to give THEM the benefit of the doubt! Love always thinks the best and hopes the best about someone else. Of you must assume anything, then assume that YOU heard incorrectly or misunderstood. Sure, there are people, and even Christians, who are slaves to their tongues and say things knowing that they will hurt. But I'm convinced that our own doubts, insecurities and fears cause much more damage than anything else.
Speak the truth, speak clearly, listen well!