Be careful what you say. James said, “Be slow to speak, swift to hear and slow to wrath” (Jas. 1:9).
If everything you said today were tape recorded and played back at the end of the day, how much of it would you be proud of saying and what would you want to erase?
As quaint a question as that is, it is terribly convicting! We have the choice to hurt or to heal every time we open our mouths. If you would like to honor God and others with your words consider these safeguards:
Think first. Before your lips start to move, pause and mentally preview your words. Are they accurate or exaggerated? Kind or cutting? Necessary or needless? Wholesome or vile? Do they pass the Phil. 4:8 test? Do they direct your thoughts toward things that are noble, true, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praise worthy?
Plan ahead. If you know you will be talking to someone with whom you tend to gossip or be negative, pray ahead of time about conversation. Ask God to help so that your conversation will be productive. When the phone rings, when you go back to lunch with friends, when your spouse comes home from work, ask God to set a guard over your mouth and keep watch over the door of your lips (Psa. 141:3).
Talk less. Your chances of blowing it are directly proportional to the quantity of your words. Compulsive talkers find it difficult to keep friends or honor God. King David said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue. I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle” (Psa. 39:1).
Be purposeful. As you guard what you don’t say, be purposeful in what you do say, Follow the advice of Paul in Col. 4:6. “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt.” Consider who needs to hear you say words of affirmation like, “I’m so proud of you.” You probably know someone right now who needs to be forgiven or restored. Speak those healing words to them. Who needs your words of comfort? Who would been encouraged by hearing you say: “You are doing a great job!’ “I am thankful to God you are in my life!” “I appreciate you..” “I love who I am when I am around you!”
This process takes courage! It is much easier to let your words fly thoughtlessly from your mouth, but don’t let them! Take some time each day to think how your words can change the life of someone – beginning with yours!