The Right Words
"Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances." Proverbs 25:11 (NASB)
Church receptionists are powerful people. Just think about it. If your church's receptionist is a godly woman, the congregation, visitors and callers benefit from her kindness, wisdom and patience.
But if she gossips ... gracious! Think how a lack of discernment, wicked words and malicious intent can spread. One person in a powerful position can poison the entire church.
Mona, the receptionist at my church, always used her position for good. Situated at a desk at the entrance of the main office, she greeted every person walking through the door and answered each phone call personally. Mona was known not only as a wonderful receptionist, but as a godly woman.
When I was a young woman in a leadership position, I was advised to seek out Mona as a mentor. It wasn't long until the tapestried bench in front of her desk became one of my favorite spots. I poured out my heart for the women of our church, and Mona joined me both to pray and to recruit the older women. I approached her with problems, and she helped me find wise solutions. I cried when my feelings were hurt and she urged me, "Beloved, run to Jesus!"
I learned so many important lessons sitting on the bench in our church's office, but the most important one was modeled rather than taught aloud.
I've always lamented that if we were given the life verse most fitting our untransformed self, mine would be Proverbs 10:19a, "Too much talk leads to sin" ... tattooed on my forehead. Mona taught me (a woman who struggles with an abundance of words) to be wise and discerning with words.
Mona modeled discretion when my careless words abounded.
I talked and talked, but watched as Mona listened carefully to everyone.
Mona prayerfully paused before speaking, while I spoke without thinking.
I voiced my own thoughts but responded in awe as Mona often spoke directly from God's Word.
As time went by, I prayed and worked to emulate my mentor. Although I still wrestled with overusing words, I became much more sensitive to their power. I tried to follow Mona's godly example by using words carefully, stopping the constant flow of chatter and re-directing potentially negative conversation to be God-honoring.
Several years passed, and I thought about Mona's life-changing influence as I packed for a move. Before I left for our new town, I wanted to find a gift to thank her for all the hours she had poured into me. I looked and looked for the perfect memento, until suddenly my eyes lit on a metallic, silver and gold apple pendant.
Immediately, I thought of the verse which often came to mind when thinking of Mona, "Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances" (Proverbs 25:11 NASB). Wise words are valuable and precious, lovely and uncommon. I purchased the pendant, wrapped it carefully and took it to the church.
As I gave Mona her gift, my eyes welled while thanking her. Without even knowing, she had taught me the priceless lesson of the beauty of well-chosen words. I pray I am doing the same for others in my life.
Dear Lord, refine my words until they become lovely, pleasing to You, and uplifting to the people around me. Please help me stop words in mid-breath that dishonor You and tear down others. This transformation isn't easy, so I plead for Your power at work in me to change me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
How are you doing with words? Make a point to listen to yourself today.
Thank a friend who is wise with her words and start to take note and learn from her.
Proverbs 10:19-20, "Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value." (NIV)
James 3:2, "We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check." (NIV)
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