by Andy Comer
“for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.” Luke 6:45
I remember singing the song as a little child, “O Be Careful, Little Eyes.” It’s a catchy little tune reminding us to watch what we see, hear, and say.
(Listen here if you’ve never heard it. Warning: there’s a good chance it will be stuck in your head the rest of the day!)
The very last verse was, “O be careful little mouth what you say.” Easier said than done, right?!
The words we speak are never just words. They’re powerful words. The book of James compares the power of the tongue to the power of a ship’s rudder. It’s able to set the course and direction of a person’s life.
Your words have the power to speak life or speak death. Your words can bless and encourage someone, or they can curse and defeat someone. Your words can bring joy and laughter, or they can bring sadness and sorrow.
You never simply speak words. You speak powerful words.Click To Tweet
Instead of just firing off thousands of careless words today, what if you decided to choose carefully every word we speak? What if we took the children’s song literally, even as adults, and we were careful with what we said? What if we aimed to live out Paul’s instruction in Ephesians 4:29?
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Here are three questions you can ask yourself before speaking a word.
Q1 – Is it Encouraging?
Paul was clear that we should only speak edifying words. To edify is to build up or encourage.
Our words either build up or tear down. Paul isn’t promoting flattering people with our words. That’s never helpful. But he is saying that our words should be leveraged to encourage those around us.
Maybe it’s a simple note in the mail or an encouraging text. Use your words to bless the barista, compliment a coworker, or champion your children. Give hope. Speak life. Talk nice.
Q2 – Is it Necessary?
Notice Paul said we are to speak “according to the need of the moment.”
If we could somehow do a daily word inventory – a rundown of every word we spoke, I wonder how many words would be considered unnecessary? 10%? 50%? 90%?
Sometimes the wisest thing you can do is keep quiet. Just because we have something to say doesn’t mean it needs to be said.
“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11
Q3 – Is it Graceful?
There are times when the truth needs to be spoken, we need to stand up for what is right, or we need to confront a loved one about an open sin.
Yes, the truth needs to be spoken, but it doesn’t have to be spoken harshly. Paul says we should speak words, “that it will give grace to those who hear.”
Even Jesus came full of grace and truth. He didn’t sugarcoat the truth, but He always spoke the truth in love. I dare you to put this question to test. Next time, instead of just speaking your mind, try wrapping your words in a grace sandwich. Then, watch how much better the sandwich is received.
No, we’re not able to fully bridle the tongue. There will be days, moments, or conversations where we miss one of these questions – or even all of them! But we can start today. We can start now. Speak life!