|Vol. 14 No. 1 January 2012||
A few years ago, a book was published titled, What to Say When You Don’t Know What to Say. This is a natural fear for some folks – to be in a situation where one cannot find the right word to fit the occasion. Recently, a lady resident at the local nursing facility replied, “I don’t know what to say to that.” This was undoubtedly quite an unusual circumstance for this personable lady.
Some people seem never to be at a loss for words. They talk. Talk. Talk. If there is nothing else better to do, they will talk some more. Some people talk and never really say anything. Many politicians are clever at this. Some folks have a reputation for cluttering the airwaves and wearing people out by their much speaking. However, a good conversationalist can find the right words, but knows how to listen, too.
Being followers of Jesus, we are to select our words carefully. Our words are powerful. They can cheer the heart and bring a glowing smile. Alternatively, they can make the tears stream down one’s cheeks as a river out of its banks. Our words can hearten and encourage; our words can wound and undermine the spirit’s vigor.
Jesus chose His words wisely. He never “flew off the handle,” nor did he go into a tirade with His opponents. He never sinned through His wording. God’s infallible, living Word instructs us in the employment of our tongues: ‘There is a time to speak, and there is a time to be silent’ (Ecclesiastes 3:7). Words spoken in haste often cause problems in our relationships, including in the home and in the church. James cautioned his readers to be swift to hear, but slow to speak (James 1:19).
Our words reveal to others the thoughts and feelings of the inner man. The state of our hearts is often disclosed by the nature of the questions we pose or the statements we make. Our words may convey tones of sarcasm, bitterness and hatred. On the other hand, our words may convey genuine feelings of tenderness, kindness, appreciation and love.
Solomon wrote, “A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends” (Proverbs 16:28). How do we use our tongues?