When to Weigh Your Words
"The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil." Proverbs 15:28 (NIV)
One of my favorite Saturday morning pastimes is going to the Farmer’s Market. The scene at this huge building filled with goods from far and near is a delight to my eyes. And on one weekend morning, God used apples to send a clear message about my words.
Rows of vendors line the marketplace floor. Colorful fresh-cut flowers. Bright raw veggies. Aromatic fruit. Handmade soaps and lotions. Woven textiles and dried herbs. For me, there is no better way to kick off my weekend than to stroll through the market, making fresh purchases for the upcoming week.
Whenever I pick apples to make homemade pie, I opt for the Michigan Northern Spy variety. They are the best for my family’s favorite dessert, "Spies for pies," my mother always taught me.
While selecting my apples, I make sure to weigh them on the farmer’s old gray metal scale to ensure I have enough for a pie. (That would be just shy of three pounds per pie, if you must know!)
One by one, I place the apples onto the scale. When I get close to the three-pound mark, I have to choose the perfectly sized apple for the final one; one that will make the dial on the scale read exactly three pounds. It takes a couple minutes, but by carefully weighing, I’m sure to have the perfect amount of apples for my flaky and tasty pastry.
And so it is with our words. If we want to ensure we have a pleasant outcome, we need to weigh our words carefully. Especially — as today’s key verse instructs — when giving someone an answer.
Before we answer a child’s request, we must think through what is really best for our son or daughter before we start to speak. Answering too quickly can lead to a sticky parental situation.
Before we answer a co-worker or family member who might be upset with us, we need to consider our response cautiously, selecting phrases that will convey the truth, but also promote understanding and peace. Speaking without weighing our words first may escalate the situation emotionally, causing an all-out verbal battle.
At times we may be asked a question that needs a gentle and tender response — instead of a quick and thoughtless reply. (This is definitely easier said than done!) We need to sort through the options in our minds as we invite the Holy Spirit to give us just the right combination of fruitful words.
If we are to pursue righteousness, we must heed the advice of today’s key verse in Proverbs 15:28, "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers …"
Notice it says "the heart." It doesn’t say the mouth.
Sometimes, by the time the words are starting to tumble out of our mouths, it’s too late. When I don’t first pause to pray and ponder in my heart, hurtful words come out of my mouth. In order to avoid causing heartache and even regret in the future, I’ve learned to contemplate words secretly in my heart. Which means running my thoughts through the grid of Scripture, before I ever let the words escape from my lips.
Back and forth. Back and forth. Searching for just the right … and righteous … fruitful combination.
Are you ready to carefully weigh your words today? The result will be a delightful offering, pleasing to you, to the hearer and to God.
It might even be more wonderful than my famous apple pie a la mode!
Father, today I will need to speak many words, both in person and online. Help me weigh my words carefully in my heart before I ever let them escape my lips. May they bear much fruit for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Proverbs 13:3, "The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own ruin." (HCSB)
Proverbs 25:11, "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver." (ESV)
Have you ever said words that were permanently painful because you were temporarily ticked off? Learn what to say, how to say it and when to say nothing at all in our upcoming Online Bible Study, Keep It Shut, with Karen Ehman. The study starts January 26. Register today!
Purchase the book through Proverbs 31 Ministries and receive a free, 10-day devotional on Tempering your Tongue! The first 1,200 copies will be signed by Karen as our gift to you!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What percent of the time would you say that you carefully weigh your words before speaking? Is it closer to 100% of the time or closer to … well … never? Be honest.
What are some questions you can learn to ask yourself before giving an answer to someone? Are there any helpful phrases to keep in your mind that will help you weigh your words? If so, jot them down her.