What are the last words you spoke to the last person with whom you spoke?
To be fair, I’ll share mine: “I love you, too.”
But if you’d heard my words yesterday, they would’ve sounded less beautiful. More… ungrateful. Untrusting. Unkind.
Words have the ability to encourage or the ability to destroy. When you add emotions, exhaustion, and ego to the mix, communication can be a minefield. The paradox? We frequently mete our harshest words to the individuals we love the most.
Why is that? Don’t you hate it? I do. I want to be a better listener. A better problem-solver. I want to end a conversation with someone knowing that I’ve affirmed him. In times of disagreement, my desire is that when the conversation is over, the problem has truly been resolved instead of postponed. I want to stop falling into the same speech traps that constantly leave me disappointed and defensive.
The gift of speech is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given, but I’m so inept at utilizing the spoken word. That’s why the Proverbs wield power. These wise sayings help me to love God and my neighbor.
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25
“He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3
“It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3
“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
Sometimes the best use of the tongue is to keep it sealed behind our lips. Silence is a powerful form of communication. The best Communicator who ever lived, Jesus Christ, chose to remain silent even when He was unjustly accused and on the way to His crucifixion. I would’ve been screaming. But He was silent. He knew He was right. Therefore, He had nothing else to say. His final action of love was all that was necessary.
It’s tough to control our words. We should think before we speak, and if we do have to say difficult words, they must be spoken in love. One of the scriptures most difficult to apply is this: “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
Father, give me wisdom. Use my speech to glorify You and encourage others. Make my words agents of Your healing.