A teenager boy opened the cabinet to get a glass, but when he opened it a glass fell to the ground and broke. His dad assumed the worse and thought he broke the glass by being careless, so he began to scream at him and telling him he was as idiot and that he was going to pay for new glass. While the young man stood there as he took the rage of his fathers words, he made angry and upset. However, his mom took a different approach. The first thing she asked was if he was alright. She then asked what happened. Once the boy had a chance to explain what happened, his mom said ďaccidents happen, but we still need to clean up this broken glass.Ē Since his mom took a wiser approach to the situation, not only did she make her son feel better, she made her husbandís rage subside and made him realize he had jumped to conclusions and handled this situation all wrong. †
The Book of Proverbs has much to say about wisely using the tongue. For example it says:
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.
All of us are guilty of jumping to conclusion and foolishly saying things by how we feel at the moment. Peter was good at doing this. For example, at the transfiguration we read:
Luke 9:32 But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men who stood with Him.† 33 Then it happened, as they were parting from Him, that Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" -- not knowing what he said.
Peter had tendency to speak whatever was on him mind, but sometimes he did not realize what he was saying. How many times have we caught ourselves or someone else speaking without thinking? Sometimes we just feel like we need say something, so we just blurt out whatever comes to our mind whether it makes sense or not.
While it is nice to have something to say, we need exercise caution with how use our words because our words have the power to destroy and uplift (Prov. 18:21).
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue
James tells us that using the same tongue we bless God and curse men and that our tongue can be like a spark that can burn down an entire forest (Jam. 3).
James 3:5 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.
James 3:9 With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.† 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.† 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?† 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.
Though God has given us the ability to use our words wisely and foolishly, as James points out the two should not flow from the same source just as spring does not send forth fresh water and bitter water. Godís intention is for us to use our tongues wisely, but many times people do not.
Like Peter, when we speak what is on our mind without thinking about it we are being foolish, but the wise does just the opposite (Prov. 15:28). †
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
As we read in verse 2, ďThe tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly.Ē It easy to open your mouth wide and allow all your thoughts to poor out, but it takes self-discipline and wisdom to speak words that matter and make a positive impact. In order for us to develop the ability to use our tongue wisely, we must work on changing the source or our words, which is the heart (Mt. 7:20-23).
Mark 7:20 And He said, "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.† 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,† 22 "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.† 23 "All these evil things come from within and defile a man."
The condition of our heart will reveal what kind of person we are (Prov. 27:19).
Proverbs 27:19 As in water face reflects face, So a man's heart reveals the man.
If we do not train our heart with the knowledge of God, then many of the words we speak will be full of folly. An untrained tongue will be like a wild horse that roams wherever he wants to and, if you try to catch it and break it, you will have a lot of work on your hands.
The first place we must begin to use our tongue wisely is to train our heart with the Word of God (Prov. 16:23).
Proverbs 16:23 The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips.
When we study Godís Word and make it part of daily life it will transform us and cause us to speak the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). Isaiah understood this idea and he was thankful for it (Isa. 50:4).
Isaiah 50:4 †" The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak A word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.
The more fill our hearts with the wisdom of God, the more our words will seem sweet instead of bitter (Prov. 10:20; 16:24).
Proverbs 10:20 †The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little.
Proverbs 16:24 †Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.
The reason our words will be pleasant is because we Godís teaches us how to speak with a humble spirit and not to use unnecessary words (Col. 4:6: Eph. 4:29). As Paul said:
Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Not only will our words be more pleasant, we will know how answer those who question us about our faith:
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;† 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
If we fail to train our heart with the Word of God then we will not be able to give a defense for our faith, and will not understand how to be meek. However, when we study the Scriptures, not only will we know how to answer others, we will also be pleasing to God (2 Tim 2:15).
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
As we continue to fill our hearts with Godís wisdom, we must also learn to pay attention to what we say and how much we say. Sometimes we want to sound smarter than we are so we ramble on, but many times we end up making ourselves look ignorant. As Solomon said:
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.
We would be much better off to say the least we can instead of the most (Ecc. 5:2).
Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
The more we ramble on, the more foolish we sound, which usually always gets us in trouble (Prov. 13:3; 21:23).
Proverbs 13:3 He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.
Proverbs 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.
One the best things we can do to help us use our tongue wisely is to use it sparingly (Prov. 17:27;†
Proverbs 17:27 He who has knowledge spares his words
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
While we work on limiting what we say, we can greatly improve the use of our tongue by learning to listen (Prov. 18:13).
Proverbs 18:13 He who answers a matter before he hears it, It is folly and shame to him.
One of the biggest breakdowns in effective communication is when we refuse to listen and we continue to interrupt. When we only take in part of what is being said it easy to jump to conclusions and begin a senseless argument that never should have been started. We live in a time, where many have little patience and they have lost the art of listening.
To be a successful listener, we must first convince ourselves that listening is important and that we need to improve our listening skills. The more we practice it, the better listeners we will become. One of the main reasons we are poor listeners today is because we are easily distracted by many the facets of entertainment that surrounds us. If our favorite show is on or, if we are in middle of playing a video game, how well are going to be able to listen? How many times have we started an interesting conversation with someone and then their phone rings or they receive a text message? Usually, that distraction interrupts the flow of the conversation and it ends.
There are many things that can district us in this world, but if we want to learn to become better listeners then we need to learn to ignore the distractions around us. For example, if we are watching TV or playing a video game, we need to turn them off or put on pause and give our full attention to whoever is speaking. If we receive a text or phone call while we are talking to someone we need to turn the ringer off and stay focused on what the person is saying. The phone call or text can wait. Whether you are listening to a sermon or having a friendly conversation keep your eyes and your ears focused on them.
We all have our own preconceived ideas about different things, but when we are listening to someone that has different point of view than we do, we need to listen to everything they say and consider their point of view before we offer our point of view. If we immediately turn our ears off at the first hint of something being different and change our thoughts to attack mode then we will be not be prepared to speak wisely as we should because we are not hearing all the details of their thoughts.
As James says:
James 1:19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;
The more time we take to listen carefully, the more calm we will be when we give our answer. When someone begin to speak about things we are passionate in negative way, it tends to make us mad. If have not constraint, we will say exactly what we are thinking, but we must refrain from doing that if we want to use our tongue wisely (Prov. 29:11).
Proverbs 29:11 A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back.
Even we someone begins to get under our skin, we can learn to defuse the situation by taking time to gather our thoughts (Prov. 15:1).
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.
While there is nothing wrong with anger itself, if we are not careful it can cause to speak harmful things with a loud voice that will not help our cause. David gives us this advice:
Psalm 4:4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
When we become angry, we can use it to motivate us to change thing, but before we speak or take action, we need mediate on what we are going to do and say that will get our point across without us sinning. Sometimes it might take us just a few minutes to take control of emotions and be able to respond in an appropriate way. Other times it might take us several days. We must train ourselves to wait to give our response when we know we can do it with a soft answer that will make our point clear.
Using our tongues wisely is not an easy thing to do, but when we make the commitment to train our tongues by putting Godís Word into heart daily, by using our words sparingly, and by learning to listen carefully, we can use our tongues wisely. The more we improve the less heated arguments we will have with others, which will make more effective at reaching the lost (2 Tim. 2:23). As Paul told Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:23 But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife.† 24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,† 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,† 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Not only will using your tongue wisely make us more effective at leading the lost, it will improve your relationships with your friends and especially your family. The more everyone in our household learns to use their tongue wisely the more love, peace, and comfort there will be. Everyone would benefit from taking Solomonís wisdom about using our tongue wisely, and I hope all us will.