Proverbs 21:23; 12:18; 15:1; 10:19; 17:9 (The Message)
Watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief… Rash language cuts and maims, but there is healing in the words of the wise… A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kinds a temper-fire… The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words… Overlook an offense and bond a friendship; fasten on to a slight and — good-bye friend!
My husband’s grandfather, Morris Acker, was an incredibly wise man. More times than I could count he started a sentence with these words: “What you oughta do is…” And, invariably, whatever followed that dot-dot-dot was completely on target and correct. Were there times when we disregarded Grampa Morris’ advice? Sure! And we always regretted it. Every time, it turned out that his advice was exactly what we oughta have done.
The Book of Proverbs is full of “what you oughta do” statements. Today we’re looking at a compilation of verses about what comes out of our mouths. (Remember yesterday’s children’s song: “Oh, be careful little mouths what you say!”) Language is immensely powerful. With our words, we can build people up or tear them down. We can encourage, or we can destroy.
Decades ago now, someone suggested to me that, in every conversation, I should imagine Jesus standing next to the person with whom I’m talking. I’ll tell you, that simple advice transformed the way I think about those moments.
Do I get it perfect every day? Sadly, no I don’t. (I so wish that I did.) But verses like today’s powerfully remind me of the importance of speaking — always — thoughtfully, and out of God’s love.
How much attention do you pay to the words you use in conversation? How might your conversations change if you could see Jesus standing there, listening to every word you said?