How Do You Use Your Words?

Proverbs 17:27: “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

James 1:19: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”

Matthew 12:36 – 37: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I love these verses. One of them is taped to my mirror (Proverbs 17:27). I believe there is some serious value in reading these verses, internalizing them, and then committing them to memory.

I also love spending time with people who are much, much older than I am. I envy their wisdom and resolve. There seems to be a sense of “understanding” that comes with their steadfastness, and a “calm” that emulates from them because of their foresight and knowledge based on prior experience.

As a young man, it is easy to let my words run ahead of my common sense at times. Often, I can even tell when I have talked myself into a situation I wish I wouldn’t have. So, to remedy my tendency to have rash reasoning and immature communication, I came up with a list of actions that I want to put in place for my life, regarding my use of my words.

“Spare my words.” It is easy at times to feel like I need to interject or add some detail when the transmitter really wants me to simply receive the message. I often times remind myself in social situations that I need to listen and respond with my body language, and wait for my cue to interject advice, insight, or input.

“A calm spirit.” A calm spirit comes from an understanding that the Lord directs my steps (Proverbs 16:9). A man of old age who is a faithful believer in Christ has a calm spirit because he trusts that the Lord has his best interest in mind and will act accordingly. Therefore, he doesn’t have to try and control the situation at hand. That reasoning leads to a lack of internal turbulence. I definitely want to adopt that mindset for myself!

“Restrain my lips” in order that I might avoid a “multitude of sins.” Think of that man or woman that is always trying to be funny or clever. They often cross the line. The same is true in any other facet of verbal communication. Less is usually more!

“Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” How much more would I know if I were quick to listen? How many times could I have saved myself heartache if I would have not said a hurtful phrase? How many relationships could I have salvaged or maintained had I not gotten angry for some small reason? All of these questions bring back regret. I want to remember my mistakes in each area and try to be a better listener and a more thoughtful responder.

Words are a privilege. Remember that we will have to “give an account” of the ones we used. Let’s use ours wisely and unto the Lord for His glory. Have a blessed Saturday!

Photograph taken by Jakub Rostkowski

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