The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
Oh, how this is one of those posts that stares straight back at me as I reflect on the words I use! I am not always careful in what I chose to say and what I hold back. My co-workers and I used to joke that I had no filter. Whatever came to my mind was out of my mouth before I even took a moment to think the words through.
I would like to say that as I have gotten older I have gotten better. I am no longer in the workforce with the influence of co-workers. Being with my kids all day each day has made me more deliberate in what I say. I work to not use profanity. Shouldn’t that be enough?
There are numerous scriptures that highlight the discretion we must use in what we say. James talks about how the tongue, comparing its size and influence to a small rudder on a ship. Small in size, huge in impact. What we say can greatly affect those around us. Just the intonation in our voice is enough to color the conversations that we have.
We see in Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” How we deliver the exact same words will greatly influence the emotions of those around us. I know with my kids I have to be careful to keep my voice calm and my words deliberate when frustrations are flaring. Otherwise, I just add fuel to the fire.
Words are also often the encouragement that we need to keep pushing through this journey through life. Proverbs 16:24 tells us, “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” It is amazing to me at times how just a few words of encouragement brings me to a whole new mindset.
A few weeks ago we spent a week at our Christian youth camp. I brought Ellie even though she is too young to technically be a camper. She and I bunked in the cooks’ cabin and I managed her throughout the week. For those who do not know Ellie, she is the epitome of strong-willed. She loves to argue and often between the two, she leaves me exhausted.
After several days without much separation between the two of us, general aggravation was setting in. Then one of the cooks wrote me a note telling me that watching me answer Ellie’s never-ending list of questions has reminded her to lessen the amount of time she spent talking at the kids and increase the amount of time she spent listening. Those few words of encouragement reset me and gave me the energy to get through the rest of the week. Gracious words can bring a lot of healing to difficult moments.
Paul takes things a step further in his letter to the Ephesians. He gives us the command to let no unwholesome talk come from our mouths. That is quite difficult for me. My biggest challenges are my desire to vent my frustrations and general sarcastic nature. Between the two, the amount of wholesome talk that passes through my lips is not in a great ratio with the unwholesome words. Definitely, something I need to work on.
Using words with restraint takes discipline and that discipline does not randomly show up on the scene. It is something that you have to think out. Earlier this year my husband and I were becoming increasingly frustrated with a situation. It was one of the things that the more we talked about it the more irritating it became. He recognized that this was beginning to influence areas of his life so he pledged to no longer engage in conversations about the subject. He was choosing to be deliberate in the words he used about the situation. He was choosing to be wise.
Scriptures abound about the words we choose and the conversations we partake in. God highlights how impactful they are both on the negative and positive ends of the spectrum. Showing restraint in what we say reflects the wisdom of our hearts.
Use your words gently and positively. Encourage each other. Build one another up. We, Christians are walking this road together. What we say has a far-reaching impact on each other. Be wise and show restraint.
As always, if you have questions, comments, or want to study further please contact me at TheRefreshingWell@gmail.com.