Words have a very unique ability. Very few things have the power to immediately bring tears, laughter, anger, happiness, inspiration or discouragement like the use of words. As a famous masked philosopher once noted, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I have to admit here that I was smacked in the face this week as I studied through this lesson from LifeMatters(focusing on selected passages from Proverbs). It’s not that I use bad words in the sense of cussing or to intentionally destroy or anything, but I fail miserably at fully thinking through what I’m going to say before I say it. This flaw has the ability to get me in trouble from time to time. I also feel the need at times to say something that simply does not need to be said. I’m not sure if it is an attempt to impress someone or just an attempt to be liked, but very often I find myself thinking, “Why did I just tell that person that?” after a conversation. It’s like the conversation is going along just fine and an ending point is approaching but rather than taking the exit I decide to journey on. I then find myself lost and confused in a conversation I didn’t mean to have. I quickly take the first available exit, but then I beat myself for looking stupid. I’m learning several things in life right now, and this week’s study pointed very clearly at a few lessons:
Think through what you’re going to say before you say it. Sounds pretty simple, but many problems would be cut off before they happened if we made this a constant habit. Sometimes the thought is correct, but there’s a better way to express that thought.
Sometimes saying nothing makes you look smarter than anything you planned on saying. This also applies to ending a conversation at the appointed time. You know when that time approaches, so gather your bags and get ready to hop off.
Use words for good. This does not mean always saying the popular thing or the easiest thing. Sometimes tough things need to be said—just make sure you know how to tell the difference. I love Solomon’s picture here of words spoken at the right time being like golden apples or gold jewelry. This even applies to corrective words when spoken at the right time. So not only do we have to use the right words, but we have to use them at the right time. Man, I have lots of work to do!
Don’t join the wrong conversation. At the very moment when you recognize a conversation has turned onto Gossip Lane or Worthless Discussion Drive, make a turn and get out of there. This is one of those things I always know I should do, but too often I’m guilty of pulling up a chair rather than getting out.
Use good words. Don’t confuse this one for using words for good because it is different. Here, the words we use are actually examined. I know many people who choose their words poorly, especially when anger sets in. From a young age, my parents wouldn’t tolerate bad language, so I’ve had many years to perfect using words like “peanut butter” rather than cussing. There’s just something that bothers me about the use of generally accepted “bad words” by people who claim to follow Christ. There are simply too many words to use to choose ones that come with negative baggage.
I, by no means, have it all figured out. I’m just now seeing the exposed part of the iceberg, but lessons like this one really make it simple to see my shortcomings and the right answers. I’m quickly finding beauty and wisdom in being quiet. I’m also working on a look, possibly eyes squinted a bit with my hand on my chin, to use when I am being silent that will add to the effect. If you have any suggestions or comments, join the conversation.