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Watch Your Words

May 7, 2019

Have you ever said something and immediately regretted it?

The scenario goes something like this. I’m talking with a friend, and our conversation turns to some verbal sparring. We’re poking fun at one another, our comments layered thick with sarcasm. It feels fun and harmless. But then it happens. I say something I really wish I didn’t. It was just a little too biting, and I took it one step too far. It feels like I’m watching the words physically leave my mouth, and all I want to do is grab them in the air and take them back before they reach my friend’s ears.

The comment contains a little too much truth. It hits a nerve. I can see it on my friend’s face. And I’m caught in an awkward situation. Do I laugh it off and pretend it didn’t happen? Do I apologize and draw even more attention to it? Or do I turn around and try to say something self-deprecating to change the subject and try to make myself feel better?

Although I’m a professional speaker, I can be a very poor communicator to the people I care about most. And I know I’m not the only one. There is a reason there are so many Proverbs about the importance of our words.

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” – Proverbs 10:18

“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” – Proverbs 17:28

And the one that immediately comes to mind for me is Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

Actions speak louder than words, but our words are powerful nonetheless.

They have the power to build up, to affirm, and to encourage. But they also have the power to tear down, to belittle, and to manipulate.

My charge to us today is simple: watch your words—especially if you’re like me and your words often flow freely.

Most of us could benefit from speaking less and listening more. It’s always helpful to choose your words more carefully and consider how they will affect the person in front of you.

Watching your words is a way to care for the people around you at home, at work, at church, and in your community. Choose your words wisely this week and use them to make a positive impact.

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