Do you ever get in trouble because of things you've said?
I do. Sometimes I think my diet is mainly composed of foot-sandwich.
I've had to learn to think before I speak, but more importantly, to think about who it is I'm talking with when I choose how to say what I'm thinking. You can read more about the process in a blog entry I wrote on the Hearts at Home website.
It's no surprise that Scripture encourages us to be careful about what we say as well as how we say it. James is blunt: “the tongue is a little member and boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by a small fire!” (James 3:5)
But Scripture also encourages us to remember that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver,” (Proverbs 25:11) and that “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
How we choose the words we use makes a difference in whether or not a situation is “set ablaze” or not; our words can help to “turn away wrath” as beautifully as “apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
I think this applies to situations as diverse as talking with a toddler or dealing with a clerk who is rude to us. How we respond verbally sets the tone for that interaction -- and it reveals a lot about us and how seriously we practice the faith we claim.
James points out in his letter that we should “be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22) In an indirect way, he's trying to get us to understand the importance of thinking before we speak, considering who it is we are talking to, and letting our words reflect our faith. Then -- we need to act on what we've said: it's not enough to murmur gracious words if there's no gracious action to follow!
I want my words to reflect my faith, to be seasoned with the salt of the gospel, to be gracious, nutritious and delicious.
I think that would be much tastier than foot-sandwich!