Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? A simple idea, but if you were to stop and think of the important meaning behind it, you might come to truly believe and know how worthwhile it is to keep your mouth closed or change what you were going to say, if what you had planned was going to be unkind or destructive.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath” ~ Proverbs 15:1a (NIV)
Guys, I don’t think it can actually be stressed enough. The proof is in the book of Proverbs. The tongue, lips, and their wiles are mentioned many times. God desires that we watch our tongues.
“In the multitude of words, sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”
– Proverbs 10:19 (NKJV)
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
– Proverbs 15:4 (NKJV)
“Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” – Proverbs 17:28 (NKJV)
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” – Proverbs 21:13 (NKJV)
The list could go on. And even a fool will be seen as wise if he just watches what he says.
Your own words and how you say them have a lot of weight, and they need to be used with discernment. Lies, careless thoughts spoken aloud, taunting insults, passive-aggressive comments, straightforward comments made in the name of candor but said without any love, hurtful words that are used specifically for the purpose of piercing someone – all of these tear down and destroy and break spirits. Proverbs also tells us in verse 1 of chapter 15 that grievous words can stir up anger.
What you speak is powerful, and there’s lots of proof of that, too.
“A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” – Proverbs 18:20-21 (NKJV)
As Christians, we’re meant to speak life. We’re meant to sing love. Our purpose is to exclaim His greatness, and in doing so, become beams of light so that others might come to know Him and the amazing grace He offers. We should be filled with that grace, so that we might translate it to others, into words spoken with care, with affection, with genuine interest, with forgiveness, and with rich gentleness. We shouldn’t speak recklessly, or bitterly, or insensitively, or from a place of anger. We need to walk our talk by being careful and wise about how we talk.
But we can’t just rely on ourselves to know what to say and how to say it. No, we’re human, and we’re prone to gossip, to snapping at one another, to saying terrible things to try and get back at the people who damage us with their words and actions. No, we can’t trust ourselves, but we can rely on the Spirit of God.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” – John 14:26 (NKJV)
Not only will relying on the Spirit for the words we choose help build up and nurture others, it will uplift us as well. It will keep our soul from troubles. It will make us wiser. And it will keep us from the lies of this world that constantly try to blur our vision.
“But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.” – 1 John 2:27 (NKJV)
Often it feels too hard to not lash out at someone when you feel they deserve it. Or to not believe something bad about someone and want to make it known to others as well. But with God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), and He is working in us always. He wants our hearts to be pure, because everything flows from them (Proverbs 4:23), and that means the words we speak come from them as well. If we ask it of Him, He will guide us to what He would have us say, to kind and uplifting words of encouragement instead of words that are harsh and said without regard to anyone else.
God wants harmony, and He knows that it’s what’s good for our souls as well. When we use our tongues to look after one another and raise each other up, there is so much more beauty in friendship and so much more peace in adversity. And He promises to be there with us to instruct us every step of the way.
“For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought say.” – Luke 12:12 (NKJV)