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5 Questions to Ask before You Speak

20 May

Thinking before we speak might be a good thing for game show participants. Here are some funny answers* people gave on the game show “Family Feud” that indicate a little more thought was needed.

  • Name a number you have to memorize: seven
  • Name something you do before going to bed: sleep
  • Name a famous bridge: bridge over troubled waters
  • Name a continent: Italy
  • Name a kind of ache: a pancake
  • Name a part of the body beginning with “N”: knee

Granted, the “Family Feud” contestants were under time pressure. But sometimes those responses are so absurd, because we’re not sure what the contestant was thinking!

Sometimes my life responses are just as foolish.

Christians want to be sure they think before they speak (Ecclesiastes 5:2a). A common acronym encourages us to carefully and wisely T-H-I-N-K before uttering a word, and this can be supported with scripture—many references from the Bible’s wisdom literature.

In general, we do not want to sin against God and others with our tongue (Psalm 39:1).  We want to be careful not to speak rashly to the Lord (Ecclesiastes 5:2-6a); and we must understand the power of the tongue to speak “life” or “death” into people in our relationships (Proverbs 18:21).

Lately, I’ve seen so many hurtful things said on Facebook and Twitter, and I wonder if people think their words carry less impact because someone can’t see their face. In one case, a godly young woman poured out foul language, and a few posts later, invited friends to attend a church concert. I thought, “What? Can’t she see how foolish that sounds? How hypocritical?”

Jesus said we speak out of our hearts, so that is the first place for ALL of us to start. We must watch over or guard our heart and be sure our words and actions align with God’s Word, will and ways (Proverbs 4:23; Matthew 12:33-37; 15:11). We need to examine our conversations and behavior carefully.

“T-H-I-N-K”-ing before we speak includes these five questions:

T – Is it TRUE?

Many scriptures speak about the perils of deceitful words and how a false witness can deeply wound others (Psalm 34:13; 52:2; Proverbs 25:18). Peter says one of the ways to “see good days” is to keep our tongue from evil and our “lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10).

God wants us to “breathe out truth” (Proverbs 12:17, 19, 22) and speak with wisdom and justice (Psalm 37:30).

H – Is it HELPFUL?

The Lord is our Helper (Hebrews 13:6a), and when we become more like Christ, we will speak helpful words that guide and instruct others in the ways of godliness (Proverbs 12:26). We will consider and study the very best way to answer or respond in the circumstances of life (Proverbs 15:28).

Discerning how to use knowledge rightly and wisely (Proverbs 15:2a, 7), we use soft answers to turn away anger and diffuse hurtful situations (Proverbs 15:119:11; 20:3).

And beyond that, we use helpful words to edify (build up) and “give grace” to hearers, modeling the kindness and forgiving spirit of Christ (Ephesians 4:29, 32).

I – Is it INSPIRING?

If you’ve ever been encouraged by a “good word” from a friend in a tough season of life, you know the importance of inspiration and encouragement–words spoke in “due season” (Proverbs 12:25; 15:23).

Pleasant, inspiring words are like “honey,” sweet to our thoughts but even more important, healing! (Proverbs 16:24). The person who offers these kinds of discreet, wise, skillful and godly words are offering “life-giving,” refreshing water to the soul (Proverbs 18:4).

N – Is it NECESSARY?

But sometimes, it’s better just to be silent. We don’t have to speak all our mind.

Proverbs 10:19 and 12:16 tell us a prudent, cautious person restrains his lips, even in the face of insults. There is potential danger in “many” words, and it’s wise to consider our responses. A wise person, the writer of Proverbs says, uses “sparing” words (17:27). It’s wise to not speak too hastily (Proverbs 21:23; 29:11).

Learn when to keep your mouth shut!

The most UNnecessary words are found in gossip. Gossip—often rooted in pride, selfishness or insecurity—can separate friends and hurt deeply (Proverbs 17:9; 18:6-8, 19; 20:19; 26:20). Don’t be a “babbler.” Be the one who shuts down gossip! 

K – Is it KIND?

A kind heart overflows with carefully-chosen, kind words that bring healing (Proverbs 12:18). Words that are kind are wholesome and gentle, life-giving to hearers (Proverbs 15:4). Christians are instructed to “be kind” (Ephesians 4:32a).

On the other hand, a crooked mind and willful, contrary, perverted words, or words impulsively offered—flowing from anger or offense—only lead to more trouble (Proverbs 17:20; 14:29; 15:18; 29:11). A fool gives full vent; a wise person “holds back,” not wanting to be unkind.

James says it well, “… be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger,” because anger and angry words don’t lead to righteousness (1:19-20).

If we would but pause to T-H-I-N-K before we speak, we could both bless and encourage people.

Is this the prayer of your heart today?

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;

keep watch over the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3)

 

 * “Family Feud Answers” from CybersaltDigest, Issue #4115

 – Dawn

Words Well Spoken

26 Sep

While on maternity leave, Charlotte brought her new bundle of joy to the office to show her off to fellow-employees. She also brought her seven-year-old son, Jack, with her. Everyone SodaMachinesgathered around the baby—ooo-ing and aah-ing—and Jack grew restless.

“Mommy,” he said, “can I have some money to buy some soda?”

“What do you say,” Charlotte asked.

Respectfully, Jack replied, “You are thin and beautiful.”

And Charlotte reached into her purse and gave Jack the money! *

LOL!

Words are powerful, aren’t they? Well-chosen, well-spoken words can make all the difference, not only in what we receive, but also how we encourage others.

Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

We can destroy or build up people by the words we choose to use.

The Bible speaks of words “fitly spoken” (Proverbs 25:11) as being valuable and beautiful. Words “fitly spoken” are words chosen because they are wise and helpful. For example:

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” (Proverbs 16:24).

Wise words, powerful words, gracious words. These are all words “well spoken” and much needed in our hard, abrasive world today.

Have you received the gift of sweetness from a friend or loved one who spoke “gracious” words to you? Are you pouring sweet words of encouragement into others’ lives?

* Adapted from Cybersalt Digest, 10-23-13

– Dawn

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