What are some practical principles we can apply to our speech that will help us in our relationships?
I like to talk. Always have. Always will.
But I've learned that it doesn't take much for me to say too much and that there are times when I've got to just watch my mouth.
We live in a society where free speech is not only allowed but encouraged. I love that. But the downside is that we have become a people who over-talk, over-promise, and under-think.
I've been spending time in the book of Proverbs lately. King Solomon, the author of most of the Proverbs, was the wisest man in the world, and he had a lot to say about the tongue.
Here are four principles about the tongue that you need in order to thrive.
1. Your words have power. You may not feel like a superhero, but you've got a magic wand. It's your tongue. Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." In other words, your words have the power to alleviate someone else's heaviness. That's more power than most people know they have. Use it wisely.
2. Your words need timing. You've got to know when to speak, and you've got to know when not to speak. Proverbs 25:11 uses the phrase "a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver." Compare that to Proverbs 26:20 where it says, "For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases." I think you see it. There's a time to speak and a time to be quiet. The quicker you learn this principle the happier you'll be.
3. Your words are permanent. You can't take them back. My favorite mouth verse in the Bible is Proverbs 17:28. Listen to it: "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent." I went through medical school on that verse alone. As long as you don't say, it you don't have to take it back. And the less you say, the smarter you'll seem!
4. Your words have consequences. It doesn't matter where you go to school or who your friends are, I believe how you use your words has more effect on your life than you can imagine. Proverbs 21:23 says, "Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble." And Proverbs 12:19 says, "Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment." Out of trouble. Endure forever. Words affect your future. Words also affect your relationships. Proverbs 17:9 says, "Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends." How are your words working for you today?
My friend recently told me, "Keep a tight reign on your mouth."
I know it's not easy. I know it takes time. But she's right, and I'm gonna take her advice. How about you?