A Wise Tongue

Be Careful What You Say

From the foolish vow of Jephthah to Samson’s riddle revealed to his wife in Judges 11–15 we are reminded of the importance of thinking before we speak. One of my father’s favorite saying (I thought for a long time that it was original to him) that has stuck with me over the years was, “Engage brain before putting mouth in gear.” In other words, “Always think before you speak.” Solomon tells us that, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). One English translation of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, says, “so is it to speak a wise word.”

Are the words you share wise?

Are the words you share wise?

For the Christian today we could use a friendly but firm reminder that Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). Despite the old children’s rhyme words can do far more harm that sticks and stones. The words that we say can cause deep, lasting, and devastating scars. Preachers have stopped preaching because of the harsh words of their brethren. Children have grown into adulthood only to turn from the faith because of destructive words. Christians have left the church and fallen away only to be lost forever because or words not “fitly spoken.”

And don’t be fooled or foolish; good intentions don’t lighten the blow!

To us all Paul reminds, “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Our words are powerful and they say much about the kind of people we are and what are the conditions of our hearts. Another one of my father’s favorite sayings was “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” Indeed we need to heed the advice of our mothers that, “If we do not have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

Lastly, it is eternally important to remember that by our words we will be judged. Jesus said, “Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). Before we open our mouths and let our brains fall out it may be wise to think, “If I say what I am thinking will it help or hinder my entrance into the kingdom of heaven?” Or, “Will this help the person and I speak to (or about) go to heaven?” Be careful what you say. Be faithful and have a blessed day!

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