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!

Weapon of Mass Destruction or Tool of Blessing - James 3:1-12

Have you noticed how important “little things” can be?  For instance, one “little” plug makes a great difference whether an appliance works or not.  On one “little” cell phone, a person can talk with a friend around the world.  One “little” gauge on the dash of your vehicle is very important, especially if it is the gasoline gauge.

In James 3 we are reminded that the tongue, although a very little instrument, has the potential to cause great blessing or great trouble.  Vast are the problems caused by WORDS spoken quickly or with little thought about their impact. These problems include divisions, anger, hurt and much more.  An out-of-control tongue causes much TROUBLE.  This trouble often explodes into DIVISION and DISUNITY and feeds gossip and rumors.  Because of words spoken out of haste, unconcern, anger and revenge, many have been injured and now carry a heavy load of hurt and bitterness.  The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” certainly IS NOT true.  On a regular basis, people are sharing how words have impacted their life with hurt, embarrassment, injury and now bondage.  The hastily spoken, uncaring word penetrates deeply into the inner person and often creates multiple problems.

As believers, we should be VERY CAREFUL about the words we speak. We are instructed in I Corinthians 10:31 that all that we do is to bring honor and glory to our Lord.  Not only that but we are reminded in the Scriptures that we are God’s representatives to a needy and hurting world, and we are to “salt and light” in this dark world.  Scriptures also are very clear that “we are not our own“ but as a believer, we belong to Christ.  We should yield every part of our body to Him. (Romans 12:1-2).  We also should remember that the words we speak actually reveal our hearts. (Matthew 12:34-37).   Others are able to see into our hearts (inner man) by the words that we speak.

The Scriptures have much instruction concerning words and speech.  The book of Proverbs contains much teaching about the use of our tongue and the power of words.  Yes, words have the power to give life or death. (Proverbs 18:21) So we ought to be very careful when, where, how and to whom we speak because words cannot be retrieved.  Forgiveness and regret may be demonstrated, but words cannot be brought back to be said over again. 

We are reminded in the Bible to GUARD the tongue (James 3:3-6), BRIDLE the tongue(James 1:26), be SLOW to speak, (Proverbs 15:1-4) to THINK before we speak (Proverbs 16:3) and sometimes REFRAIN from speaking (Proverbs 17:27).

It behooves each believer to take careful note of the words they speak.  Much time reading and meditating on the Word of God sets our hearts and minds on things above and opens the door for the Spirit of God to convict and lead in this needy area.  

It would be wise to STOP and EXAMINE your words.  Do they honor God? Do they bring peace and help to others?  Do they draw others to Christ?  Or do your words create hurt, injury, trouble, confusion and loss of testimony?  We are reminded in II Corinthians 7:1 to “take all the filthiness out of this temple…”  So in obedience to God, we should admit what we know is true, confess the sin of wrong words, anchor our minds in the Word and seek forgiveness from those who have been offended due to our words.

Let’s pray and set a plan to SPEAK good, helpful, encouraging, God-honoring, pleasant and life-giving words.