"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent and discerning if he holds his tongue." Proverbs 17:27-28
I've been thinking about words a lot recently. My words mostly. I wish I could say that all my words were wise and encouraging, but the reality is that a lot of my words are ugly and sinful. Some days I really struggle to just be nice. It's true. Oh, it's easy to put on a pretend smiley face, write an upbeat Facebook status and answer the phone like June Cleaver. But in truth, I get easily irritated, frustrated, and angered. Then I vocalize those feelings. It's mostly because I'm too busy being self-centered to actually deal with the situation at hand. Rather than stopping what I'm doing and going to the children to help them work it out, I yell in my fiercest voice from the other room, "Why can't you just do what you know is right? STOP FIGHTING!" Hmm...not so Christ-like or helpful. The solution is simple though. I need to stop. Stop trading the eternal for the temporal. Stop being lazy. Stop being selfish. Take those few minutes to interact face to face with my children during the times when they need guidance. Choose to set a good example. If I've ever wondered why my children yell at each other or speak with an unkind tone, I only have to look at myself. They are imitating what they hear. It's true. It's heart-wrenching. But it's NOT hopeless. Christ is working in my heart and in their hearts. These times of struggle are refining us for his glory.
Here's how I'm learning to deal with my words. The key is to catch myself before I respond in sin. The following questions help me to weigh the words I say:
1. Is what I'm going to say worthwhile? true? necessary? kind? wise? loving?
2. Will it build the other person up or tear them down?
3. Will it honor God?
Here are a few other verses...
"He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity." Proverbs 21:23
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19
"Through patience a ruler can be persuaded and a gentle tongue can break a bone." Proverbs 25:15