The Sharpest Tongues We Know

Tim Dilena

I ministered in Detroit for 30 years. While preaching on the streets, I’ve been cursed at. I've been spit on. I've had bottles thrown at me. I've had bullets fly by. None of that ever bothered me, though. I wasn't offended. I didn't know the person; they didn’t know me.

My wife looks at me the wrong way, though, and Lord have mercy. That's worse than a bottle. That's worse than a gunshot.

Hurt is proportional to intimacy. The closer you are to someone, the deeper they can hurt you. Even David said this, “For it is not an enemy who taunts me — then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me — then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend” (Psalm 55:12, ESV).  

Words really matter. They carry weight. In fact, Solomon says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21), and even James says, “It [the tongue] is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:8-10).

He speaks to all of us, and this is so important because any hurt that is not dealt with will turn into bitterness. When you're dealing with a bitter person, it's because they didn't take care of that hurtful situation. All of us have been hurt, will be hurt again and will hurt others; so what are we supposed to do?

Let me tell you, I’ve been on both ends. I've been the offender, and I have been offended. There have been moments that we took communion, and I sat in a chair waiting for my turn, and the Holy Spirit said, "Don’t touch that until you stand up and go ask forgiveness of that staff member." I would look at the band and say, "Keep playing until I get this right." Then I'd have to walk out and make things right. It's so difficult when the Holy Spirit says, "You have not only been offended, but you have been the offender.”

It starts with an apology, first to God and then to others. There's one relationship that you always have to deal with right away, and thats your relationship with God; then you make it right with others. As John says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

After pastoring an inner-city congregation in Detroit for thirty years, Pastor Tim served at Brooklyn Tabernacle in NYC for five years and pastored in Lafayette, Louisiana, for five years. He became Senior Pastor of Times Square Church in May of 2020.