“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
In settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11
2020 was a difficult and unsettling year, which included a pandemic and a divisive national election. Harsh rhetoric and half-truths stirred up anger and strife, even among followers of Christ. There were days when I dreaded what I would see on social media or hear on the news. Perhaps it was the same for you.
I consider language a gift from God. Even when I disagree or find it necessary to speak bluntly, I can do it without devaluing another person with expletives or name-calling or gossip. When I write, I want my words to give hope and value to others. I also ask myself: “Do my words please God?”
“Let the words of my mouth
And the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”
As a fiction author, I enjoy using words. My word choices and the way I put them together matter if I want to communicate clearly with you, the reader. While I type out my words, I have time to think them through and check for spelling and grammar errors. I have discovered that pushing the “delete” button is sometimes a good choice when editing content.
I’m grateful for “edit” on Facebook posts when I type too fast and don’t read over my post before I hit “enter.” I’ve been told, however, that once you put something on the Internet, it hangs around in cyberspace, even after you delete it.
If you’re like me, you have memories of thoughtless words you’ve spoken and wish you could erase permanently or words spoken by others that wounded you. You can’t entirely wipe poor word choices from a listener’s mind or heart. When you knock someone down with name calling, or you use foul speech, you’ll probably leave a lasting impression, even after an apology.
The words I use and how I use them say a lot about me, including my cultural background, my education, where I live and with whom, my occupation or career, and the condition of my heart. I’m not always proud of what comes out of my mouth, and I’d be ashamed to have some of my thoughts read by others.
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
The writer of the book of James compares the tongue to a fire. Even as a stray or careless spark can cause a wildfire, so one mean or thoughtless word can damage a reputation or destroy a life.
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” James 3:5
These wise words from Proverbs have come to my mind often lately. They are a helpful reminder to me, and I hope they are the same for you.
“A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.”
“The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,
But perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Scripture quotations from NKJV. Photos from Pixabay.
coming in July 2021