Idle Words

Reading in Matthew this week with my husband for our devotions I found a statement by Jesus that made me really stop and think about what I say.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken….New International Version.

Other translations speak of idle words, careless words.

The Greek phrase used here means “careless or inactive or unprofitable words.”

I tried to research how many words the average person speaks per day but there are all kinds of conflicting studies on this subject.  It is clear from all of them that most of us do speak thousands of words a day.  There are studies that indicate women talk more than men (at least we are accused of that) but other studies say that is just a myth.  (For all the women who, like me, are often waiting on their husbands who keep talking and talking, we know that is a myth.)

But of those thousands of words I may speak each day, I wonder how many are really helpful to others.

Taking a closer look at my speaking, I ask myself:

  • How often do I truly listen to others speaking to me?
  • How often do I resist the temptation to jump in and offer my opinion when it is not really needed?
  • How often do I wait until the person is done speaking before I respond?
  • How often do I “think before I speak” or do I just blurt out whatever comes to mind without engaging my brain first?
  • Are my words always kind?

When I read the rest of what Jesus said that day on speaking, it makes me want to be more careful when speaking.

“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

How about you?  Do you think before you speak?

 

Not Politically Correct – But Shut Up!

As I approach the final chapters of my life and look back at the earlier chapters, I realize the big flaw (do I dare call it sin) in my life has been my tendency to speak before I think.

Many times my motives have been good.  I’m the kind of person who likes to fix things, make things better for others.  So when someone comes to me to share a concern, a problem, a difficult situation, I am often quick to give advice on what they should do to take care of the problem.  Quick to share my opinion on how they should handle things.  Even quick to do something myself to make things better.

Good intentions – to help.

BUT – perhaps they do not need or want my advice.  Perhaps they just need to have someone listen to them and maybe give them a hug.

Other times, I must confess, my motives have not been good.  I have spoken quickly out of anger or hurt.

However, I do not think I am the only one with this flaw.  Reading the Proverbs this week with my husband I could not help but notice how many times the writer tells us to watch our words.

Proverbs 17:28 – “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.”

Proverbs 18:13 – “Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish.”

Proverbs 21:23 – “Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.”

But the one I love the most is Proverbs 10:19 – “Too much talk leads to sin.  Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.

talk

Now if we could just get our politicians and news reporters to follow that advice.

More and more I find myself praying the words of Psalms 19:14 – “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”