Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
- Colossians 4:6
In industries working with saws and measurements, there is a saying, "measure twice, cut once." When workers abide by that tenet, they make fewer mistakes, there is less wasted materials and time, and it creates a continual awareness of liability in the worker's mind. I know from my own jobs when I was on the tools that waste was the outcome when I bypassed that principle.
Words can be great tools in the hands of a wise builder. When we speak, our words affect the hearer. By the results of our conversations, we see what our words have done to others, whether they have built someone up or torn them down. How many times have we thought, "I wish I could take those words back and have a second go at saying it?" We wished we could have thought twice and spoken once, without regret. The Apostle Paul, in his epistles, always seemed to share wisdom about what rolls out of our mouths.
An Economy of Words
One great trouble with our words is that they are unlike money. If they were like money, we would spend them far more wisely. The predicament is, we have an endless supply which we tend to spend on anything. That is why scripture is full of cautions about what and how we speak.
If God limited your words to 1000 per day, would you think more wisely about how you use them before opening your mouth? I can see myself getting to about 11:00 am and asking God to withdraw another 2000-3000 words.
If words were dollars, and God gave us few, we would think about who we would spend them on that day and how many words we would use in each conversation. We would also learn new words to explain things simpler. I believe the Bible was written using this principle. I have previously remarked about its beautiful brevity. Most passages say what is needed in fewer words than we would use. I tend to think our words would be more gracious when we spoke, too, as we wouldn't have enough of them to spend on clarifying issues if someone took offence.
Does God want us to think about the number of words we use and how we use them?
For a start, Ecclesiastes 5:2 gives direction when talking to God. "Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few."
God is saying haste makes waste and to think deeply and intelligently before we speak to Him. But what about people?
The Bible is also full of hints on how we should use words with people. Terms we easily find in scripture associated with speaking are gracious, joyful, uplifting, not tearing down, not corrupt, seasonal (at the right time), compassionate, with kindness and humility. And Proverbs 31:26 speaks about the virtuous woman, who is often compared to the Bride of Christ, "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness."
When we think twice then speak once, words more often come out fine. We've given the Lord time to season them with salt, so they are a pleasant savour in the ears and hearts of hearers. He's had time to caution us to trim off the useless or harmful parts. We no longer harm friendships, business and sporting relationships, political careers, and ministries but maintain and grow in love.
Why don't we try using fewer but better thought-out sentences? It may seem weird to friends as they struggle with the new you. But the Lord wants us to use our mouths as tools in his service. Therefore, their usage needs to be learned. It is more profitable to spend greater time thinking righteously about what we might say than speaking, and then when we talk, we use only righteously sifted words in the power of love.
Today's prayer:Dear Lord, I love the idea of thinking more than speaking and then speaking more wisely. Please help me to use fewer words more wisely with greater beneficial impact.
Photo by Juan Rumimpunu