By Seth Gossar
Verses To Read:
I have read statistics reporting that on any given day, the average person speaks between 4,300-7,000 words. Even on the low end of that average, this adds up to a minimum of 123,205,750 words spoken in a lifetime. No matter where you fall on that scale, that’s a whole lot of words! Practically speaking, this number represents 123,205,750 opportunities to build others up or tear others down. This is the number of chances to speak truth and love over others. We also can’t ignore the weight of the words we speak over ourselves. The things we speak over our own lives have the power to set up our attitude, outlook, and mindset every day.
There was a song I remember singing sometimes in my childhood when I rode the bus to church. One of the lines in the song went: “Oh, be careful little tongue what you say, for the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little tongue what you say.” I wish I could tell you that this song had a positive impact on every word I spoke, but sadly that isn’t so. I am so thankful God is rich in mercy and love. As we learn and grow throughout our lives, we hear different things said to us and around us, and we aren’t always aware of the impact these words make. After we see how people react and suffer the consequences of the things we say, we begin to make associations with the things we say and how we say them. Some learn from those associations and begin to treat people with more kindness. Others use their words to manipulate and hurt others. I’m so thankful for God’s mercy and grace during the moments I made poor decisions and that He has taught me to be more intentional with my words.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” It’s such a funny phrase because we all know that words have a far longer lasting impact than a bruise or cut.
Growing up, the negative words my parents spoke still haunt me to this day. I had to work hard to not allow my parents’ example to influence how I spoke to my own children; still, in moments of weakness the words of my parents sometimes slipped out. Unwholesome words and words spoken in anger or frustration can hurt, damage, and scar. Wholesome words can build up and encourage. Choose your words carefully before you speak.
Before speaking, I encourage you to ask yourself if what you are about to say fits within the following rubric:
T – True. Is this fact or is it really an opinion or feeling? It can be hard to stay objective in situations that elicit emotions; don’t tear someone down just because you are angry. Often, others don’t want our opinion in a situation unless they’ve specifically asked for it. Not every feeling needs to be shared.
H – Helpful. Does it help you, them, or the situation? If it’s not helpful, it is often hurtful.
I – Inspiring. Does it inspire yourself or others? Wouldn’t we all like to spend our days inspiring others to be a better version of themselves?
N – Necessary. Would this be better left unsaid? Not every thought we have needs to come out of our mouths (or flow out of our fingers onto a screen).
K – Kind. What is your motivation for communicating? Be honest with yourself about this one. It’s not easy but it is crucial.
In the world we live in now, it is easy to type some words into social media and tear others down without having to face them directly; it is so easy to be quick to speak. Let us cling to the command in James to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Questions To Consider:
1. Are the words you choose to speak pleasing to God?
2. Would you consider using T.H.I.N.K before speaking? It never hurts to take a second or two to consider this before responding to someone.
Prayer to Pray:
Dear God, as David wrote Psalm 19:14, this is my prayer: May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer. Amen