Christine is a well-known horror novel and movie written by Stephen King. It is the story of a nerdy teen who purchases a vintage automobile, dubbed Christine by its previous owner. The car is apparently supernatural and commits many evil deeds against the owner’s adversaries. It’s a pretty interesting tale if you’re into that kind of thing.
A few years after Christine was released, I bought an older Toyota pickup truck. I had always wanted a truck and was very proud of it. It was painted State Road orange and was covered in so much rust that I was afraid the bed would fall off if I hauled anything heavy. No matter what everyone else said, I thought it was beautiful. My wife and children were completely embarrassed the entire time I owned it. I, naturally, loved my little orange pickup truck!
The very first day I drove my truck to the office, my coworkers teased me all day about my “ugly” truck. I took it all in stride, as I knew they were jealous of my awesome truck! That same day, we had an auditor flying in. She was an inexperienced traveler and was intimidated about renting a car and driving in unfamiliar turf, so we had told her we would take care of her transportation needs while she was in town.
Being her main contact at our office, I volunteered to pick her up at the airport. As I was about to leave, one of my coworkers Jennifer said, “You can’t pick her up in that awful truck. Take my car!” Jennifer had a very nice Nissan Maxima, perhaps one year old. Knowing she would not relent, I reluctantly accepted her keys. As the auditor and I were attempting to leave the airport, I could not get Jennifer’s Maxima to go into gear and had to call for someone to pick us up. Jennifer had her car towed to the dealership and was informed the transmission had gone out. Fortunately, it was still under warranty.
At the end of that same day, my boss Ed and I were standing outside talking before we left to go home. Ed looked at my truck and snickered, “Man, that is the ugliest piece of junk I’ve ever seen!” I laughed and said, “Thanks!” I have to admit I was enjoying all the attention I was getting because of my truck. The next morning when I arrived at work, Ed said, “You’ll never guess what happened right after you left yesterday. My car wouldn’t start and I had to get it towed to the shop!” It was an almost new company car, I believe a Chevy Impala.
Jennifer and Ed figured out that both of their fancy new cars had broken down minutes after they dissed my rundown old truck, so someone decided to name “her” Christine in honor of the infamous Stephen King vehicle. That name stuck the entire two years I owned Christine. People were always joking about not upsetting me, lest Christine would exact revenge on them. To this day, I am certain if you asked any of my children or former coworkers who Christine was, they would all answer, “Dad’s/Randy’s ugly orange truck!”
Of course, I was not offended by my friends’ good-natured ribbing, and certainly Jennifer and Ed’s car troubles were not related to their playful banter about my beloved truck, but I have used this humorous memory to illustrate an important point about our words. We were all taught as children that “Sticks and may break my bones, but words will never harm me,” and to a certain extent that is true; however, the Bible warns about how our words can be hurtful. As Christians, we need to be careful to choose words that are uplifting and encouraging, and especially that will not cause anyone to stumble in their Christian walk.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).
“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in Me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42).