When I was a freshman in college, I took Speech, and one of the assignments we had was a debate. We were given a subject to research, one side would debate for and the other side against the assigned topic. As I participated, I realized this was fun and I enjoyed defending my perspective. I realized that words could have a persuasive quality if you know how to present your thoughts well and with composure. Stating your case succinctly and clearly was a challenge. In Proverbs Soloman explains,
“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little” (Proverbs 10:19-20 NKJV).
Later in nursing school, I learned the importance of being a good listener. As you listen to your patients carefully, they will reveal critical information that illustrates what they are experiencing. This data is a part of the assessment that identifies patient problems. Using questions that facilitate the patient’s ability to give the needed information was a skill that was invaluable. Again Soloman explains,
“He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him. The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, And the ear of the wise seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:13, 15).
These communication skills were helpful as I began work and attended meetings. I realized the importance of listening to people and asking questions. I discovered that I was surrounded with wisdom and that if I encouraged others to express themselves the outcome was a creative and innovative.
Even though I had all these great lessons, I found the most challenging lesson to be in everyday life when I was in disagreement with those close to me. Over time, I have learned that really thinking through what I say before I say it and asking questions before I respond is the picture of grace. If I respond without having all the information about the topic, I will respond inappropriately. Salt is the thing that makes food taste good, palatable, and something you want to eat and enjoy. In the same way, well-chosen words can effectively display grace.
“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).
Our speech is mentioned frequently in the Bible because choosing our words wisely is critical. I am humbled by this topic because even as I write this I can remember a recent incident in which I spoke without thinking it through. Regrettably, my words were less than kind. I am thankful for a gracious God who forgives if we ask and gives mercy to the undeserving such as me. As it says in James 3:2-10,
“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”
Therefore, remember that framing your words carefully is critical:
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4: 29-32).
MEMORIZE THIS VERSE:
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold In settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
Dear Holy Father I thank you for the many wise truths in the Bible on communication. Help me to frame my words carefully, showing your love. Help me to speak as it is written in your Word, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11 NIV).
I Pray In Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.