The Words Series: Part 2, When Less is More

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The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?  Eccles. 6:11

 Yesterday, I kicked off The Words Series with instruction about how we should speak gracious words that heal instead of wound.  Sometimes, there are no gracious words left.  That’s when we just stop talking.

I ended yesterday’s post with Ecclesiastes 10:

Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious.. But do you remember that it left us hanging?

This is what followed:  but fools are consumed by their own lipsAt the beginning their words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness.

There are plenty of opportunities for us to speak life into other people.  Yesterday I shared the passage from the Bible that warns, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”  Unfortunately, all too often, the words we’ve chosen aren’t life-giving but life-taking.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of that?  I have a memory seared in my mind from when I was 12.  Words shot like flaming arrows from one adult to another that left them with permanent burn scars.  You would think that single memory of the absolute horror words can bring down would temper my mouth.

Yet I fail.  I speak when silence would be a far better alternative.  I’ve written about how the most insightful piece of advice I received from a woman leader I interviewed for my book was to actively listen.  Put on the role of listener instead of talker.

God agrees.  Listening may be a far safer option.  There are serious cautions in the Bible for the person who can’t learn to control what they say:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt. 12:37

The reality is, our words reflect who we are.  We will be judged, both by those we encounter and by God, by what we say.   And imagine having to stand and give account for every empty word spoken.  That stops me in my tracks.

Even for those who don’t believe in God, the adage holds true.  What did our mothers always tell us?  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  People judge who you are by what you say.

Let’s hold each other accountable and stop speaking if our words will be less than gracious.  Let’s show how we can encourage one another one with love and support and take a tiny step to making our current culture less vitriolic.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. I John 3:17

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