Think Twice – Speak Once
I am a pretty physical guy who likes working outside (when I have to), especially when the weather is really hot and I can work up a good sweat. Unfortunately, even though I am an engineer by training, I am a terrible handyman – to my wife’s dismay. I can use the basic tools, but anything more than a hammer or screwdriver catapults me way out of my comfort zone.
Compound that with the fact that I am an obsessive perfectionist. Each minor job turns into a major project because all the details have to be just right: pictures exactly centered and level, mulch spread evenly, every edge in a painting has to be a straight line… you get my drift. So, few things irritate me more than when I make a measurement or assessment, and then realize that where I cut the wood or hammered the nail was wrong. I did that a few times as a kid and learned my lesson.
Once you cut the wood, you can never take the cut back. Always make sure you’re cutting in the right spot! Thus, the all-important adage “measure twice, cut once” or “measure twice, hammer once.” As you can imagine, I have found many applications for this particular proverb throughout my psychological and spiritual endeavors.
The fundamental take home is, “Think before you act.” One frequent application the Bible teaches is about how we talk with each other … especially with those we love. How many times have you said something hurtful that you wish you hadn’t said? How many times do you even ponder something before you say it? Once something is said, the words can never be taken back. Yes, we can apologize, ask forgiveness, and try to make up for it. But taking words back is like un-cutting wood, un-hammering a nail, or un-ringing a bell … you just can’t undo the damage.
We all have trouble reacting automatically, especially when we feel hurt, sad, anxious, rejected, or have other uncomfortable emotions we are trying to avoid, soothe, or defend against. The ability to tolerate discomfort and identify a better way to respond or react to a situation is not wired into us naturally. Nor does society teach us how to handle these uncomfortable but inevitable events of life. Yet, thinking before we speak, and examining our hearts and motives are the Biblical principles Jesus, James, and Solomon, among others, exhort us to practice and perfect.
Today, develop the discipline of decision-making, in which thinking is a vital component. We all make comments we regret. We wish we could just rewind life … have a do-over. Be intentional and try to “think twice, and then speak once.” A few moments invested in thought will save many hours of guilt, shame, and hustling to remedy the damage. Then take the more important second step and dig deeper – try to identify the needs, fears, or emotions that push you to speak before you think. This is actually a great spiritual exercise in heart examination that will reap great treasure. Whether you think before you act, or you just react and suffer regret is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, I confess, Father, that I have been guilty of using wrong, harsh words with others. I have misused the gift of a quick mind that You have given me. I pray, Lord, that You will fill me with your Holy Spirit …and that I give Your Spirit time to respond as I speak and write. Help me be quick to listen, disciplined to think, and slow to speak … and let me see Your message in everything. I pray in the name of the one You sent to teach me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6
…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, James 1:19