A few days ago, my cousin shared an article from Linkedin on Facebook titled “Venting doesn’t release negativity; it rehearses it.” It really caught my attention, and I have been giving the statement some thought. There is truth in that headline. I skimmed the article, and the last paragraph is worth sharing with you:
Words matter. Words are not actions, but they do incite actions. Venting your worst thoughts tells your brain, this is OK; this is normal. It’s only a matter of time before your actions reflect your very impulses. Being an adult means learning not to act on your every impulse. Those impulses include your language.
The Bible has quite a bit to say about our speech and the sins that we commit with our tongues. One of the ways in which we sin with our tongues is the content of our conversations; the words we use. Ephesians 4:29 says “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” When we give into the urge to vent, I can hardly think of a scenario in which that venting would be good for building others up, or give grace to those who hear (the person we are venting to). When we vent in frustration and anger over something, and one’s emotions are high, it is very easy to cross the line from expressing emotion to some sort of sinning with the tongue. It is especially true if our frustration is with another person. Venting, being a type of conversation, by nature requires a listener. When we vent, we are dragging our listener into our sin with us and sinning against them at the same time, as well as the person we are griping about. Not to mention at the root of it, we are sinning against God. Even if our venting has nothing to do with another person, perhaps a stressful day or some other sort of trying issue, we are still back to the Ephesians verse and the exhortation that our conversations should build up and give grace. Probably not going to happen. Ever.
I process best by being able to talk through an issue with someone. Usually it is my husband, who is a very patient listener. ‘Talking it out’ helps me refine my thinking, identify problems with my own perspective, find solutions to problems, and solidify concepts that I want to teach to others. Verbal processing can be useful. BUT. It can also leave those of us who are geared this way, wide open to falling into sins of the tongue, as described above. I know, because I have certainly crossed that line before. In fact, the reason that the Linkedin article caught my attention, is that the Holy Spirit has been bringing me to conviction over this very issue recently. It is so tempting to give in to blowing off the steam of frustration by venting, but I have been learning that it very quickly can fall into the category of sin. I also find that I do not feel better afterward, like I believed I would. If anything, I’ve become even more riled up over whatever the issue is, and in danger of falling into sins of anger. I am thankful that the Spirit is working in me to mortify this sin and repent of it. My prayer for myself is Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” Because there is extreme conviction from this verse: James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” *low whistle*
It grieves me the times that I have sinned against God by venting. I hate it. I am forever grateful that God is gracious to forgive us when we confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9). I long for the day when I will no longer have two natures striving within me: the sin nature and the nature of the new birth. One day I will be with the Lord in glory, free from my sin forever. What a day that will be!
Soli Deo Gloria!