Have you ever said something to someone and wished you could erase the words from their mind? Do you lay awake at night and replay the words in your head—over and over again—that you wish you hadn’t said? I’m right there with your friends. My words can sometimes come out a little too harsh.
James 3:8 tells us that no human can control the tongue because it is evil. Thinking back over some of the things I have said, I would have to agree; evil can come out of our mouths. But with God’s help, it’s possible to successfully change the way we talk. I have discovered that if I pause and mentally consider these eleven questions before I speak, it helps me to keep my tongue in check.
Eleven questions to consider before we speak:
1. Are my words truthful?
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:25 (ESV)
Can your friends believe what you say? Good relationships are built on trust. To have healthy relationships, we need to be genuine with one another. Being dishonest causes a lack of confidence amongst friends and family. If we want to be considered trustworthy, we need to remember to be honest with others.
2. Are my words necessary?
“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27 (NIV)
Not every word that comes to our minds needs to be said the moment we think it. It’s best to mull over it for a minute before blurting it out. It may not be the right time to say it. If God doesn’t lead us to share it later at a more appropriate time, we’re probably not meant to say it.
3. Are my words encouraging?
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)
I’m sure you remember the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, you shouldn’t say anything at all.” Our words have the power to build others up or tear them down. Before we open our mouths, let’s make sure our words are uplifting and full of life. An encouraging word can go a long way.
Are my words encouraging others to blossom or causing them to wilt? –Tweet this!
4. Are my words going to inspire growth?
“My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the meditation of my heart will give you understanding.” Psalm 49:3 (NIV)
This is a tough one. Sometimes we may have to be honest and speak words to others that are difficult to say. Ephesians 4:15 reminds us to, “speak the truth in love, so that others may grow and become more like Jesus.” The next time we have to have an awkward conversation, we can soften our words by wrapping them in love.
5. Are my words wholesome?
“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)
Are my words going to benefit others? Our words should be uplifting and positive; encouraging all who hear them. If what we say isn’t appropriate it’s going to have a negative impact on those around us.
6. Are my words going to be gentle?
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ” Proverbs 15:1 (ESV)
Have you ever been told, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.”? Words spoken in a peaceful manner will almost always be received better than those that are fiercely spat out. If we take a moment to gain control of our words first, we’ll be able to calmly give a reply.
7. Are my words manipulative?
“Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” Romans 16:18 (NLT)
When we want things to go our way, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using persuasive words to get what we want. If we are careful to weigh our motives (and do a little heart check) before we speak, we can prevent ourselves from using smooth and dishonest speech.
8. Are my words boastful?
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2 (ESV)
There’s nothing wrong with sharing about the good things going on in our lives. But if we are constantly talking about our accomplishments, we’ve crossed the line. If it feels like bragging; its bragging!
9. Are my words filled with flattery?
“A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.” Proverbs 26:28 (ESV)
Complimenting our friend on her new hairdo is perfectly acceptable as long as it’s sincere. However, a compliment said with the intention of personal gain is not. We should never use our words to win favor or better our position. When we are tempted to dish out a bit of flattering praise, let’s remember to humble ourselves and let God do the exalting(James 4:10).
10. Are my words hurtful?
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18 (ESV)
In the MSG version of the Bible, this verse takes it a step further and tells us our words can cut and maim. According to the freedictionary.com, the word maim means to disable or disfigure. Ouch! This verse really puts the power of our words into perspective, doesn’t it? I guess the question we need to ask ourselves here is this: Do our words bring healing or cause pain?
11. Are my words wise?
“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice.” Psalm 37:30 (ESV)
A wise person faithfully considers their words before they speak. Every word is carefully mulled over to make sure it’s necessary, encouraging, truthful, gentle, wholesome, and full of inspiration.
If we want our words to be full of wisdom we too must ask ourselves: Are they necessary? Encouraging? Truthful? Gentle? Wholesome? Full of inspiration? If the answer is yes, then it’s probably OK to say it.
Lord, we praise you for your infinite wisdom. We thank you for the truth and knowledge that can be found in your word. We ask that you forgive us when our words fall short. We humbly ask that you help us to speak words that are necessary, encouraging, truthful, wholesome, wise, gentle, and full of inspiration. Help us to speak truth and life into the lives of others. In Jesus’ name, we pray, Amen!
Which one of these questions do you relate to? Is there one you struggle with the most?
Thank you for following along today. I hope you were encouraged by my words. I pray they inspire you to speak words that help others to blossom. ~Kelly
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