There is a three-inch scar at the base of my neck marked in the middle by a small, diamond-shaped bruise. Some parts of the scar still bear the stickybond they put over the incision. It was once covered by thin white steri-strips. When they took the strips off, they told me I could also peel off the bond – but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Rather, bit by bit each morning I trim the ends as they come loose. Even though it sounds a little ridiculous, the line from that famed poem comes to mind:
Momma said I’d lose my head if it wasn’t fastened on.
I know it was only a 3-inch incision, but what if?
There is no pain – just a little stiffness to help remind me of all that has transpired. There is also a hoarseness. After surgery I was told not to yell or laugh raucously. I was told that my voice would grow tired, but that this would also eventually pass. I am only two weeks out.
The hoarseness that comes from talking too much reminds me that I’ve used too many words – that it’s time for a rest from the saying of things. It forces me to choose, to think about that which wants to be said and that which needs to be said. It forces me to think about saving my words.We must choose between those things that want to be said and those that need to be said. #MaturingFaith Click To Tweet
Saving my Words
June is coming to an end and it’s hard to believe that we are half-way through the year. While the time has gone quickly, the lessons of life have not. Early in the first quarter of the year, I began to feel that God was leading me toward greater spiritual maturity and growth. This was especially true in one particular area, the taming of my tongue, and most particularly in relation to my marriage. I felt like God was calling me to be a better steward of the words that crossed my lips. I felt like God was calling me to think about saving my words.
This was and remains a challenge for me.
I like all the words. I like to learn new ones in my own language and others. I value the power of words. I enjoy new combinations of words and playing with their sound and feel.
But our words, my words, are also dangerous and sometimes hurtful. The Bible is clear about the temptation and harm that comes from them.
Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
but the prudent hold their tongues. (Proverbs 10:19 NIV)
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18 NIV)
Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for them. (Proverbs 29:20 NIV)
But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36 NIV)
Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26 NIV)
Refuse to Stand Silently By
Many years ago I bought a book about grassroots social activism titled “Refuse to Stand Silently by: An Oral History of Grass Roots Social Activism in America, 1921-64“.
I loved the title, Refuse to Stand Silently by.
For so many reasons, this book resonated. I prided myself on being one of those persons who would never just stand by, but would be one of the first to speak up. I felt I had a right to all the words; a duty to make sure they were used. I saw myself as an advocate for my own needs and those of others.
At that time I wasn’t interested in saving my words. I wanted to use all of them; powerfully and forcefully.Our words, used without wisdom, without discernment, and without discretion, amount only to foolishness. #MaturingFaith #SavingMyWords Click To Tweet
Our culture, our world, and our flesh tell us, they encourage us, to speak what is on our mind. But sister, what God is impressing upon me this year is that there is a difference between “speaking my mind” and “advocating on behalf of others.” There is also a difference between “getting something off my chest” and “speaking truth in love.”
God is showing me that just because I think or feel something doesn’t mean that something is necessarily right or true. He has convicted me that just because I want to “say it” doesn’t mean I should “say it.” I’ve also found myself thinking that if I profess Christ, I don’t necessarily have then the right to say it.
So often our words are fueled by a desire for justice, for respect, and for attention. All are things that we believe are owed to us. God’s own Word points us in a different direction and gives guidance about how we should use our words:
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. (James 3:9-10 NIV)
These are the types of things we are to be saving our words for.
These are the ways God longs for us to use our words with one another.