“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.” (James 3:2)
God spoke through the prophet Joel saying, when it comes to your tongue, here are three rules:
- Don’t speak too quickly. “We all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we … could … control ourselves in every other way” (v. 2). Because you can never be totally aware of all the sensitivities of a person, you must rely on the Holy Spirit to direct your speech in a way that doesn’t tap into their pain or other negative experiences. Everybody has a different sensitivity level, depending on their past experiences. That includes you too. So practice not being easily offended, and giving others the benefit of the doubt when they say something that could be misconstrued as offensive.
- Don’t respond too quickly. “To answer before listening — that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13). Before you speak, listen carefully and make sure you understand what is really being said. And if you don’t — say so. Your need to “look good” can cause you to lose respect in the eyes of the person you’re seeking to impress.
- Don’t commit too quickly. Solomon writes, “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God” (Ecclesiastes 5:2). Then he goes on to explain how we shouldn’t try to drop out of a commitment by saying we made a mistake. Your word is your bond, and when you break a promise, you hurt people and forfeit their trust.
So pause before you speak, and if need be, take time to pray. Your time and your words are two things that can never be taken back, so carefully weigh what you say.
Lord, lead me to fully listen to the words and feelings of others, and to carefully consider what I might say in response, so that I more glorify Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.