Monday, September 24, 2012

Let My Words Be Few

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens....a time to be silent and a time to speak. ~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1:7 (NIV)

Do not be hasty to speak, and do not be impulsive to make a speech before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. ~ Ecclesiastes 5:2 (HCSB)

What if --- I only spoke if I truly had something worthwhile to say?
  • Something important and relevant
  • Something inspiring and encouraging
  • Something helpful and hopeful
  • Something loving and grace-filled
No more biting sarcasm dripping from my fangs; no more ugly, hurtful, wasteful words rolling off my tongue. 

Gone would be the back-handed retorts, the underhanded, snide remarks that I've perfected over the years.  

What would life be like if I removed every useless, unnecessary utterance from my lips?  Would people think the proverbial cat had gotten my tongue, or that I was giving everyone the 'silent treatment,' or maybe that I'd FINALLY lost my mind and forgotten how to speak?

Over the years, I've gone from being as quiet as a church mouse (so much so that I STILL run into people who tell me, "We went to school together? I don't remember you at all") to the gal who always has to have the last word in conversations. 

And when I'm on Facebook (which continues to be WAY too often -- it has become my Achilles' heel), I find that I can best be described as a well-known tea bag:

Constant Comment

Why? Why do I feel the need to do so?  I don't know. Lately, though, I'm (thankfully) catching myself and either removing my witty, yet caustic and sometimes downright STUPID comments before I post them -- or I don't even bother to create a comment at all.

My biggest problem is that I don't think before I speak. Words just pour out, like verbal vomit.  That 'quick to listen, slow to speak' admonishment from James 1:19, and trying to become that woman who displays a gentle and quite spirit (1 Peter 3:4), has always tripped me up and has been difficult for me to actually put into practice. So often I feel like such a failure as I find myself regressing into Chatty Cathy mode. I feel like giving up. 

But what if I didn't give up?  What if I persevered and tried again? And again? Focusing continually on this question:

What if I only spoke when I truly had something worthwhile, positive, encouraging, inspiring, kind and life-giving to say?

Would it make a difference in someone else's life?  In my own life?

"When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need -- 
words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you." 
~ Ephesians 4:29 (NCV)

Currently, I'm re-reading the classic book, 'In His Steps,'  by Charles M. Sheldon.

It tells the story of a small town where a church congregation resolves to conduct their lives by applying Jesus' behavior to their own, always asking this question

What would Jesus do?

in each and every situation they are confronted with.  This book is truly so much more meaningful to me than the very first time I read it some years ago.  Yet for me, it's not enough to challenge myself with that same question of "What Would Jesus Do?"

When I am confronted daily with particular situations, circumstances, and by people with their not always pleasant nor predictable reactions and responses towards me, I need to also be asking myself a second question:

What would Jesus SAY?

Especially when I'm tempted to respond by saying things that I KNOW will only serve to get me in trouble and that I will most definitely regret later. While I'm unable to go into details, suffice it to say that I've recently caused a bit of trouble for a friend and added a few more dents in my reputation as a result of, once again, failing to think before I opened my mouth and inserted my foot. 

Don’t shoot off your mouth, or speak before you think.
Don’t be too quick to tell God what you think he wants to hear.
God’s in charge, not you—the less you speak, the better. ~ Ecclesiates 5:2

Throughout the gospels, Jesus spoke carefully. His words were never belittling or thoughtless, but instead, they were always meaningful, life-giving and life-changing. He spoke words of encouragement, comfort, wisdom, healing, conviction, love and truth.

Today, will my words provoke anger, pain, discouragement or hatred?  Or will what I speak promote peace, healing, hope and love?

How about you, dear ones?  Do you struggle with keeping a guard over your mouth as much as I do? Does a torrent of words seem to burst through your lips on daily (or moment-by-moment) basis, like water bursting through a dam?  Or are you able to keep your tongue under control? Do you indeed think before you speak?

For the next 31 days, the church I attend is doing something called The P31 Challenge. We've been encouraged to read a proverb a day, along with a previously prepared, corresponding daily devotional that we are sent through email, or which can be found on a handout that was made available to us this past Sunday. 

There is much wisdom to be found in Proverbs, and many have to do with words and speech. I'd be wise, at this point, to not only mark those particular proverbs, but to take them to heart and live them out, as I continually ask myself these two questions: 

"What if  I only spoke if I truly had something worthwhile to say?"

"What WOULD Jesus say?"  

"When words are many, sin is not absent; but he who holds his tongue is wise." ~ Proverbs 10:19

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." 
~ Proverbs 12:18

"He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin." 
~ Proverbs 13:3

"A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
~ Proverbs 15:1


  1. Sounds wonderful. God used Ecclesiastes 5:2 early on in my life as a new believer and it stunned me into silence. Temporarily. About 30 seconds. But that verse follows me to this day as well as many others. I have a book called Taming The Tongue that I love. Wonderful post, Pam. Although I fail, I am with you on the persevering. Let's not give up. God is not finished with us. He promises to finish what He starts in us SO we have hope, my friend! With you in the battle. Also I need to read that book! Love you!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement in this, Dawn. I need it. I found the book, 'In His Steps,' sitting on a table at a little book store in Ocean Grove, NJ, years ago. It cost me about $4. I gave it away later on, and wanted to kick myself for doing so. Found it again at the local library's book sale -- for .$50. :) I believe it can be found online and downloaded as a free e-book, but don't quote me. I'll do some investigating and let you know. It's a wonderful book that really hits home for me. Much love to you, my dear. <3


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