“If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”
I’m guessing you’ve heard that one before?
In a time when it’s “cool” or even celebrated to “speak your mind,” holding our tongue (or our thumbs on the tiny keyboard in our hands) seems a rare skill.
We as a culture seem to have all but lost the art of discretion; but if we follow Jesus we are called to be counter to the cultural norm. We are called to operate at a higher level.
So, what does that look like on a practical level? Let’s consider it from a few different angles, mostly taken from the book of Proverbs.
First, and quite simply, Proverbs 10:14 tells us that a wise man holds his tongue. I could stop right there and this article would be complete! If we are wise, we will hold our words.
This point is further driven home in chapter 17, verse 28 where it says that even fools are thought to be wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.
💬Hold on. So even if someone is foolish, all they have to do to appear wise is simply to remain silent? YES. Wow, let’s let that sink in for a minute!
I once heard a quote that said (paraphrased), “don’t speak unless you can improve upon the silence.”
What if we all practiced taking a quick pause before speaking and asked ourselves “will this add value to the listener?”
How much better off we would all be!
Proverbs 21:23 says that whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.
Whew! I can sure attest to the opposite being true, too. I can certainly think of a time or two (or ten) when I’ve let words slip past my lips and immediately felt the pang of regret, wishing I could rewind time and take them back. Maybe you can relate?
There is an acronym that is most often used when teaching kids, but it’s such a good reminder for all of us. Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.
Is what you are about to say:
That’s so good, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s the most basic, elementary things that we can take for granted and need to be reminded of. It is imperative that we get the “basics” established so we have a solid foundation to build upon.
To take this a level deeper, since we know from Romans 10:28 that faith comes by hearing, we should carefully consider what we speak since our owns ears hear every single word we say!
Are our words building our faith up or tearing it down?
Even the world of quantum physics affirms the significance of our words, referring to the weight that they carry as energy or frequency. When we speak, what are we releasing into the atmosphere?
Words create worlds. For better or for worse. Life or death. Blessing or cursing. We should never take lightly the power that our words carry!
💬The surest way to keep our lips pure is to manage our internal world, since it is out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
If we want our words to be “seasoned with salt” we need to address it at the root – from the source – which is the heart.
In this same vein, I want to leave you with one final verse from the book of Proverbs, chapter 4 verse 23, which tells us to guard our heart with all diligence, because from it flows the issues of life.
The next time we, say, feel invited to join an argument, or maybe feel the urge to state an opinion where it was not solicited, let’s practice the art of pausing and considering what the fruit of engaging might be.
There is, of course, a time and a place to speak up, but we must carefully discern when those moments are and trust the Holy Spirit to give us the words to say. The fruit we are called to bear is love, joy, and peace (to name a few)!
Let the words of our mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in His sight (Psalm 19:14).
We are called higher, friends!