A Word to the Wise … Weighing Our Words Carefully
Words matter! Normally words are intended to say and mean something specific—they present ideas and put thoughts into our minds. Words can be misunderstood and the old saying, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm/hurt me,” isn’t accurate—it’s often false and incorrect. Words are expressed by our voices when we speak, in what we write on paper, thru social media, in what we read, and possibly in other ways as well. When our words are repetitive or become overused, it’s possible that they begin to lose their emphasis. In addition to this … over the course of time, many words have been given a new perspective or a different definition. Some words have become toxic or controversial because our society has become the authority over what’s right, wrong, and acceptable. Other words, which years ago seemed to be used in a more limited way or possibly had a more vulgar or pointed meaning have become too commonplace. It’s ironic that I don’t feel comfortable giving examples in this article because the use of these terms bothers me and therefore, my main objective is to stress the absolute importance of considering when we speak, how we speak, what we say, and why we should follow the advice of James 1:19 … 26.
Each of the other Bible passages in the insert is also very relevant to this discussion. Yes, if it’s possible this topic might be a good conversation to have with someone else. Everyone could benefit from having an honest dialogue about our words, and especially about the effort we make in listening carefully to others when we are engaged in personal discussions that could be less comfortable when we actually dig deeper than the surface by allowing God’s Word to be the authority, rather than our personal opinions. Before I close, please allow me to suggest three personal applications from what I find in these passages included above. Maybe you can find some more as you look at these verses!
1. In our technology—driven culture, our listening skills have been challenged—often they’ve decreased because we’re being distracted by text messages, Twitter, Facebook or ???. When we talk with people, we’re tempted to spend more time trying to determine what we’ll say next, even before we know what the other person said. Suggestion: Pray for God’s help in learning to be quick to listen & to listen well.
2. James warns us that it’s practically impossible to bridle our tongues. He also instructs us to be “slow to speak.”
Suggestion: Ask God for the wisdom to knowing when to speak and what to say. Avoid temptation to filibuster.
3. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Suggestion: Look for opportunities to encourage one another and pause before challenging or criticizing someone to ask both God and yourself whether it’s necessary to say what you’re planning to say!
As always, with praise for His grace and prayer for His glory, Pastor Greg