Listen Before You Speak

Proverbs 18:13 provides clear instruction to listen before making comments or decisions. How often we give our conclusions and judgments rather than listening to get the full story. Speaking quickly and harshly is an indicator of a deeper problem, a “heart problem.” We are reminded by our Lord in Matthew 12:34 “. . . for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” So we must conclude that when we speak harsh, judgmental, and insensitive words, we often do so without knowing all the details and with the intent of making others look guilty. 

In many cases after we have spoken, we become aware of all the details and realize that our conclusions and words were not accurate, sensitive or godly. The problem with words is that once they are spoken, it is impossible to get them back. Words become lodged in the minds and hearts of all who hear and can cause great grief and trouble.

Throughout Scripture we are reminded to be careful with words since “death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .” (Proverbs 18:21), and words can cause great trouble and hurt. We should read James 3:1-12 often to be reminded of the need to carefully speak words that do not hurt or destroy others. Many people have been severely affected by careless and unkind words.

Each day we speak thousands of words. Many times our words do not meet the guidelines the Apostle Paul gives in Ephesians 4:29, where we read, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Words reflect heart condition, obedience to the Word, love and concern for others, understanding of Scripture and much more.  

Since words are so important, the following evaluation may be helpful. Take a few moments and answer the following questions.

Has God been pleased with my words today? 
Can I think of a person I injured today with wrong words? 
Have my words been truthful? 
Would I be glad to have everyone know the words I have spoken today?
Have my words been helpful to others today?
Have I spoken pleasant and kind words to my family?
Do my words attract people to Christ?
Am I quick to speak without getting the details?
Do I often gossip about others?
Do my words cause problems?

After examining your words, it may be necessary to confess and seek forgiveness from God and from others that have been injured by wrong words.

Remember, words do make a GREAT DIFFERENCE!