The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. Proverbs 18:4
From the fruit of their mouth a person's stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. Proverbs 18:20
Realizing that I couldn't recall the last time I saw Meg, our 8-month-old puppy, I put the remote down and went on a search party. The house was quiet, eerily too quiet, especially for a home with a little fluff ball who is always full of energy. I halted in my tracks as soon as I stepped foot in the bedroom.
Meg was lying on our bed in the middle of a giant mess, content as can be, almost proud of her accomplishment. She had managed to get an "extra jumbo" size roll of toilet paper and unraveled the entire thing throughout the room. Attempting to rewind the roll would be an exercise in futility - it was a lost cause.
Our words act much the same way. Once spoken, no matter how much we might want them to, they cannot go back in our mouth and be forgotten. The implications of our words have already begun to unravel.
Anyone who has suffered a nasty case of “foot-in-mouth” disease knows this to be true. Our thoughts seem to be going in slow motion, but our words have the uncanny ability to spill out of our mouth at warp speed. As we clumsily attempt to grasp those words and take them back at all costs, someone is left confused, hurt, or embarrassed. Our words can quickly lead us into a situation that we do not want to find ourselves in.
Chapter 18 of Proverbs goes into great detail about the power our words hold and the danger that comes when we're reckless with them. Lax words speak to being careless in our connections with others. Unfortunately, many of us take the “speak now, think later” approach to our words. They carry a weight so strong that they possess the ability to crush someone's spirit.
One of the major themes throughout the book of Proverbs is the way our speech is a test of how wise we have become. When it comes to our speech, wisdom gets displayed through the use of self-control. King Solomon, the author of Proverbs, suggested taking a “less is more” approach to our tongue. He urges us to be quiet and listen before a word leaves our lips. By being intentional about saying less, we protect ourselves, and the other person, from creating a relational mess.
What would happen if we paused and considered the impact of our words before speaking? Imagine the difference if we thought about, or even prayed about, everything we said before we said it. Remember, we can always learn more by listening than we can by talking.
When was the last time you weren't careful with your words?
How can you be intentional today with your words in a relationship that you value?
God, may I listen first and speak second. I desire for my words to uplift others rather than tear down. This can only occur if I seek to be intentional with every word I utter. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.