Words Wrapped with Love

 

“Let your speech always be with grace…”

Colossians 4:6

In a new article, C.J. Mahaney shares a great idea for a thoughtful gift we can share with all of our loved ones this Christmas. I think each of us can benefit from his wisdom…

Christmas provides a wonderful opportunity to give gifts to those I love. I enjoy doing all I can to surprise them with a particular gift. I am sure you do as well.

But here’s what I’ve come to realize: too often I can put more thought into the gifts I buy them than I do the content of my conversations with them at Christmas. In fact the content of my conversation can be a gift of greater substance and of more enduring value.

By using words that are carefully and skillfully chosen, we can give the gift of grace to others. And Christmas provides us with many opportunities for conversations with a variety of friends and family. But are you prepared?…

Continue reading C.J.’s article “A Gift Idea” HERE.

Photo: Charles Thompson

Yak, yak, yak. Blah, blah, blah.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking,
but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
Proverbs 10:19

 

When I was but a youngster, I remember getting a kick out of this silly song on the oldies station:

You talk too much, you worry me to death.
You talk too much, you even worry my pet.
You just talk, talk too much.

You talk about people that you don’t know.
You talk about people wherever you go.
You just talk, talk too much.

You talk about people that you never seen.
You talk about people, you can make me scream.
You just talk, talk too much.

Talking too much–it’s an amusing topic for a song, but can be a miserable problem to handle in real life. Ask any elementary school teacher you know.  :)

In this video, Mike Emlet of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation offers some biblically-based counsel on how to gently and lovingly address the yakkety-yakkers in your life.

Photo: Aschwin Prein

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Grace to Give Life

 “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14
    

Over the past few weeks weeks, I’ve talked a lot about talking. Today, I’m just going to be quiet for a bit and let someone else share in this conversation. In the following video, Paul David Tripp, author of War of Words, presents some valuable insights to help us in our quest to subdue the untameable tongue.   

    

Photo: Andy Stafiniak    


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Words of the Wise (Pt. 4)

“The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.”

Proverbs 15:28

Even though over two decades have passed, I can still remember the feelings all too well. Sitting in the bedroom alone, face flushed, skin tingling, and heart vainly, yet fervently wishing for the power to turn back time. My untamed tongue had gotten me in trouble once again. If only I could be granted a redo, I would start over and say something really nice instead of something so terrible to my sister! As I waited for one of my parents to come apply the rod of correction to the seat of my understanding (as one of my professors so poetically puts it), my childish mind would repeatedly echo a Nancy Kerrigan-like “Why?!! Why?!!” and wish it weren’t so exceedingly difficult to keep my mouth under control. In those early stages of life, I became well-acquainted with the sentiment of Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!” 

With the passing of so many years, I wish I could say that my battle against an unruly tongue had long ago been won, but at 32 years of age, the war rages on. Since you’re human, and you’re a woman (my apologies to any rogue male readers out there), you just might know something of the difficulties of saying the right thing at the right time and in the right way. Yessiree, wrong thing, wrong time, wrong way—that’s more often the course my speech tends to follow. Another truth with which I am all too familiar: “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent” (Prov. 17:28). 

In the book of Proverbs, a distinguishing characteristic of the wise woman is seen in her ability to close her mouth. She knows well that “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Prov. 13:3). While the fool is marked by an open mouth, the wise woman is marked by open ears. She is ready to listen, learn, and receive instruction. The foolish woman, on the other hand, remains convinced that her mind is a storehouse of knowledge out of which she is obligated to share generously with all (18:2).

Perhaps you’re familiar with such a lavish giver. She may identify herself as being the blunt type, one who always speaks her mind, or the proud recipient of the gift of gab. If a thought can be expressed clearly in ten words or less, she can skillfully pack it into 50. To put it simply, she talks too much, and it gets her into trouble. I know what it’s like to be that woman. Maybe you do, too.

Although we often pass off the tendency for excessive yakking as a mere matter of personality, Proverbs portrays it as a matter of wisdom. The problem, as Proverbs 10:19 puts it, is that “when words are many, transgression is not lacking.” The simple fact is: the more we speak; the more we tend to sin.  Being well aware of this truth, the wise woman disciplines herself to guard her speech.

A simple question will help us to discern whether the words in our heart are worth conveying with our tongue: Are these words worthwhile? Of course, if we think only in terms of ourselves, our thoughts will often seem worthy of expression, so that’s why it’s important to think in terms of our Lord and our neighbors. Would our words be worthwhile in that they would bring glory to God and grace to those who hear us? If so, then they’re words worth speaking. If not, then a silent conversation with the Lord just might be of greater benefit to all.

To expand these thoughts further, we can remember the following principles taken from the New Testament. A wise woman’s speech is worthwhile when it is:

  • Guarded
  • Good
  • Germane (Not germane as in Jackson; germane as in appropriate)
  • Gracious.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “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.” We guard our mouths to prevent corrupting (literally, rotten) talk from crossing our lips; we speak words that are good for the growth of others, that are germane (appropriate) to the occasion, and that will convey the grace of God to those around us.

Because I took my alliteration medication today, let me add three reminders for how such a daunting task as developing worthwhile speech can be tackled:

Whether on the phone, on Facebook, in person, through email, wherever, and whenever, let’s make our words count. Talk less; listen more; sin less–the wise woman’s motto. ;) 

 

Here’s today’s proverb:

“He who restrains his words has knowledge,

and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.”

Proverbs 17:27

 

Related: The Sweet Taste of Sharing

 

Photo: Dimitri Castrique

Words of the Wise (Pt.3)

“An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
    but the righteous escapes from trouble.” 

Prov. 12:13    

If there’s one lesson that politicians are unquestionably qualified to teach us, it would be this–our words have consequences. Take the following example from the life of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown: 

   

Ouch. Even though Brown’s two-facedness is inexcusable, I can’t help but feel compassion for him in this situation. Can you sympathize with him as well? Maybe your words have never been recorded and replayed for the world to hear, but you probably know what it’s like to speak before an unintended audience. When we decide to talk badly about another, our usual strategy involves checking to see who’s listening before we begin talking, but sometimes, we get the two actions reversed. And when we do, it’s never a good thing. Somehow, it’s so much more comfortable to talk about someone behind her back when she’s not actually right behind your own back!

In our series on the words of the wise, we’ve learned that our speech is important because it identifies our origin and it reveals our hearts. Additionally, the woman of wisdom understands that her words matter because they have eternal consequences. Proverbs 18:21a teaches that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” How serious is our speech? According to the Bible, it’s a life and death matter!

Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I had a tape recorder, so you could hear yourself”? For some reason the threat of having our words forever preserved often provides us with a much-needed incentive to control our speech. Think about it for a moment. How differently would you speak if you knew that, like Gordon Brown, a microphone was transmitting your every word for any and all to hear?

Most of us probably already know this truth, but we often live as though we’re entirely unaware of it—Our every word is being recorded. Jesus Himself made this fact perfectly clear:

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matt. 12:34b-37)

Every careless word. Give account. Justified. Condemned. Death. Life. Eternal consequences.

For women accustomed to spewing out thousands of words each day, such thoughts should tighten even the loosest of lips. It is said that a woman once told the well-known evangelist John Wesley, “My talent is to speak my mind.” Wesley wisely replied, “Woman, God wouldn’t care a bit if you would bury that talent.” We would do well to follow Wesley’s advice and seek God’s help in laying our untamed tongues to rest.

The grave consequences of our unwise speech should act as spotlights drawing our attention not to a need to clean up our act, but to our need for a Savior who acts on our behalf. We are women of unclean lips in desperate need of the cleansing blood of the One who silently bore the punishment for every one of our careless words (Is. 53:7). Our words are powerful, yes, but Christ’s grace is infinitely more so. As we seek victory in our battle against the untamable tongue, may we rely fully upon the strength of Jesus Christ, who alone has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).

Here’s today’s proverb:    

“My son, do not lose sight of these—
   keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul
   and adornment for your neck.”

Proverbs 3:21-22

Illustration: Billy Alexander