Summer Wise – Summer Not
Week 2 – Master My Mouth
We are in week 2 of our Summer Series called Summer Wise – Summer Not. I think we should all make it our goal not show up in any of these video clips.
What do you think?
We’re learning from King Solomon, the wisest and wealthiest man to ever live.
Our focus is on the book of Proverbs. Last week I challenged you to consider reading a chapter a day since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs. I have heard from several who are doing that. It is not too late!
Today we are going to see what Provers has to say about mastering our mouth. Haven’t we all spoken some unwise words somewhere along the way? Some words slipped out of our mouth that we wished we could take back. They say that the average man speaks enough words in one year to fill 66 books, 800 pages long. That is about 20,000 words a day. The average woman speaks about 30,000 words a day.
Wisdom dictates that I other no commentary on those statistics! 😊
The truth is, people love to talk. We are a nation of talkers. There are talk shows on TV, talk shows on the radio, and with the variety of handsfree devices that are now available, it is rare to see someone who isn’t talking to someone, whether they are in the car, exercising, taking a walk, or at work. In fact, it is rare to see someone who isn’t talking these days. Unfortunately, when it’s all said and done, a lot more is said than done.
“Those who control their tongue will have a long life; opening your mouth can ruin everything.” – Proverbs 13:3 (NLT) Isn’t that the truth! Be careful what you say. A careless talker can destroy so much. Proverbs has a lot to say about our words. In fact, there are well over 100 verses related to our speech in the 31 chapters of Proverbs.
Three Summary Statements about the words that we speak:
1) THINK before you speak.
Another way to say it – contemplate before you communicate. “From a wise mind comes wise speech; the words of the wise are persuasive.” – Proverbs 16:23 (NLT) Intelligent people think before they speak. This is about getting your mind in gear before you engage your mouth.
Have you seen these game shows where people try to guess the answer before the question is asked? They almost always get it wrong when they assume they know the question before it is asked, don’t they?
When it comes to communication, it is never wise to assume. Listen and think before you speak.
A wise old owl set in an oak
And the more he saw the less he spoke.
The less he spoke, the more he heard.
Let’s try to be more like that wise old bird.
It is wise to think before you speak because we all must live with the consequences of the things we say. Do you realize people have died for saying the wrong thing? The Police were interviewing a victim of a severe beating. They asked, “Can you describe the man who beat you up?” The man said, “Of course, I can. That’s what I was doing just before he beat me up.”
Shortly after he retired, the former quarterback for the San Diego Chargers, Dan Fouts said, “Now that I’m retired, I want to say something I’ve always wanted to say: All defensive linemen are sissies.” Dan showed great wisdom by keeping his mouth shut until after he retired.
We all have to live with the consequences of the words we speak. The Bible says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21) “Don’t trap yourself by making a rash promise to God and only later counting the cost.” – Proverbs 20:25 (NLT) Solomon is saying, choose your words carefully. Calculate the cost. Think before you speak. It’s a trap to agree to something before you’ve really thought it through.
We have all heard the saying, talk is cheap. Talk is not cheap! It can cost you dearly. Do you know the seven most expensive words in the English language? “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Talk is not cheap! 😊 For instance, it is much easier to say yes to 90 days same as cash than it is to pay the payments for the next five years after the grace period.
I suspect most of us have said “Yes” to a salesman somewhere along the way, only to regret it later. Have you ever hastily accepted an invitation or an obligation that you later regretted? It’s always easier to get in than to get out. That is a hard lesson for most of us to learn. What you say can win friends or make enemies. What you say can get you hired or fired. Solomon says, think before you speak.
2) Always speak the TRUTH.
There are different kinds of dishonesty. We understand lying, but there are other forms of dishonestly like deceit, exaggeration, and withholding information. Whenever you fail to be straight forward and honest with people, whenever you drift even slightly away from telling the truth, you are leaning toward dishonesty.
In theory we would all agree that honest is the best policy. But in practice it that doesn’t always seem to be the way things work out. And we always seem to have a reason why it’s not a good time to be completely honest in our specific situation. Who knows what would happen if I told them the truth? They might blow up. What if they get mad? They might stop talking to me. “Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble.” – Proverbs 10:10a (GNT)
Why do we hold back the truth? Sometimes we do it because we’re afraid of how the other person will respond. We’ll do whatever it takes to avoid conflict and keep the peace. We don’t want to make waves or rock the boat. Rather than being honest, we try to keep the peace by being passive and quiet rather than risk shaking things up by being honest.
Some people will do anything to avoid conflict. Anytime there is even the slightest disagreement they run the other direction. You may be keeping the peace for the moment, but you may also be robbing yourself and others of a deeper level of intimacy that can only be developed by your willingness to have those difficult, and I would say necessary, conversations. We often settle for a level of superficiality when we are unwilling to be completely honest in the area of our relationships. Superficiality and avoidance typically don’t lead to a win. I think most of us know that. Holding back the truth causes trouble.
Here are two key principles we dare not forget. DISHONESTY destroys relationships. Bitterness begins to rise. Hurt feelings begin to surface. Emotional wounds begin to fester. People stop trusting each other. Doubt begins to grow. And the relationship begins to suffer. Some of you are watching certain relationships die right before your eyes because you, or someone you love, won’t face the facts and speak the truth right now.
“An honest answer is a sign of true friendship.” – Proverbs 24:26 (GNT) You don’t lie to people you love. You level with them and tell them the truth…even when it hurts. Just as dishonesty destroys relationships…telling the truth restores and builds them up. Telling the truth leads to INTIMACY. That is principle #2. Truth may lead to greater conflict at first. But working through these kinds of challenges can lead to a place of deeper intimacy.
It has been said that there is no intimacy without truth and there is no truth without conflict. Many of you are living in superficial relationships right now because every time there is even a hint of conflict, you back off, or run away. You say things like, “Just let it go. Forget it! It is not worth it. I don’t want to make waves. I just want to keep the peace.” Is it worth it? Do you realize what you lose when you do that?
Let’s be honest. The peace that you are living in for the moment, it is not genuine peace. It is a fabricated of fake peace. It is a façade. It is certainly not the deep, genuine, or lasting peace that you experience when you are completely honest with one another.
How long are you willing to avoid the issue and pretend it’s not there anyway? Maybe it would help to identify the issue right now. What topic are you avoiding? What are you pretending not to know? What discussion have you been avoiding? What conversation(s) do you need to have?
“In the end, people appreciate honest criticism far more than flattery.” – Proverbs 28:23 (NLT) Solomon says, “Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue.” (NIV)
People appreciate honesty more than flattery.
The alternative to being truthful and honest in a relationship is to keep playing games.
I believe Solomon would say it is wise to face the issues and be honest.
Superficiality and avoidance lead to a false sense of peace.
It is time to tell the truth.
This has application for marriages, dating relationships, parent/child relationships, work relationships, friendships, etc.
Being honest and telling someone the truth doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It means you love them enough, and you value the relationship enough, to tell them the truth.
That’s why the Bible says, think before you speak. And then always speak the truth.
When you get angry and upset, when you’re dealing with difficult issues and you’re hurting and everything in your body says get up and walk out, do your best to stay at the table, and work toward resolution. That is the path to greater health in relationships.
Most people haven’t learned how to develop stronger relationships. Nobody taught us how to do this and we haven’t seen it modeled. Far too often we are unwilling to be truthful and go through the conflict that gets us to a place of deeper relational intimacy. The Proverb writer says, learn to keep quiet until you’ve thought it through. Think before you speak. Then be willing to speak the truth.
3) Always speak the truth in LOVE.
Of course, love is the qualifier. We never use truth as a club. “Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” – Proverbs 12:18 (NLT) We can wound people, or we can heal people, with our words. Thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword. But wisely spoken words can bring healing.
Haven’t we all been hurt, and haven’t we all been healed by words? Unfortunately, we often say the most thoughtless things to the people we love the most. Sometimes what I say can be perceived as harsh. That’s not how I mean it, but that is how it comes across. I have to work hard at maintaining the right tone in my attempt to speak the truth in love. And I will be the first to admit that I am not always successful.
This has been an ongoing challenge for me personally. And it helps when I am held accountable. I don’t necessarily like to be held accountable, but it is a good thing, and we all need accountability. Just the other day, Laurie asked if I realized how confrontational I was being. I didn’t. I just thought we were having a talk. It is easy to develop blind spots. We need accountability. Don’t run from it. Embrace it.
If nobody has the courage to confront you when you are speaking harsh or hurtful words, nothing will ever change. And if we are honest, we would have to admit that the relationship that cannot tolerate truth or accountability is unhealthy and dysfunctional.
The Bible says we are to speak the truth in love. As followers of Jesus, everything we do is to be done in love. “Kind words bring life, but cruel words crush your spirit.” – Proverbs 15:4 (GNT) The power of gentle words, and kind words, is that they bring life. When you care enough to confront, confront in love because those words can bring life and health.
Not long ago I heard about a man who had been in a coma for several months. The pastor was in the room when the doctor came in to speak with the man’s wife. The doctor said, “He’s never going to come out of this. It’s hopeless.” After the doctor left the room, the pastor walked to the bedside of the man in the coma. He spoke into the man’s ear and said, “I know you’ve heard what the doctor said. But he’s wrong. You are going to make it. You’re going to come out of this coma. I don’t care what the doctor said, you are going to make it!”
Tears began to run down the man’s cheeks. The pastor was right! The man in the coma did recover. And he said the turning point in his recovery were those loving words spoken by his pastor. “You’re going to make it!” He said, when I heard those words, I wanted to live. “Gentle words are a tree of life.”
“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” – Proverbs 12:25 (NLT) Everybody loves to be encouraged, don’t they? I have saved so many notes, cards, even emails of encouragement that I have received over the years. We all love to be encouraged and we all need to be encouraged. I really want to be a better job of being an encourager to the people around me.
All of us are going to encounter a lot of people this coming week. Without even knowing who those people are I can tell you this with confidence – Everyone is having a tough time in some part of their life. Everybody is dealing with some kind of hurt.
Everyone you meet is someone who can use a little encouragement. What if you just decide to intentionally be kind, speak gently, and offer encouragement to everyone you encounter this coming week?
Would you be willing to make that a PERSONAL PROJECT this week? Decide right now, you will speak a word of encouragement to everyone you meet? You will build them up – not tear them down. An encouraging word can do wonders.
Some of you are in relationships that are dying right before your eyes. There’s an issue that needs to be dealt with and nobody wants to talk about it. Maybe it’s the family secret. There’s a big pink elephant in the room and everyone has been saying “What elephant? I don’t see it.” You walk around it. You avoid it. You pretend it isn’t there. There is a problem, or there are issues that need to be discussed. It may be financial, relational, sexual, it could be parenting problems, all kinds of things. You need to deal with it. You really do.
We talked about this a few weeks ago in the series called RE-Assembly Required. The goal isn’t necessarily reconciliation. You don’t control that. You can only do what you can do. But you can do your part. And you can choose to live with no regret. Back to Proverbs 10…”Someone who holds back the truth causes trouble.” – Proverbs 10:10a (GNT) (2)
None of us want to deal with conflict in relationships. I get it! It is sometimes easier to look the other way, in an attempt to not rock the boat. But you’ve got to care enough to confront, and you’ve got to be willing to fight for the relationship. It is worth it! Stop pretending you don’t know what you know what’s happening. You can think before you speak, and when you speak, be sure to speak the truth, and when you speak the truth, be sure you speak the truth in love.
In addition to encouraging the people you meet…I want to invite you to take a calculated risk this week. Would you risk conflict in order to lovingly speak the truth in that difficult situation the Lord has brought to your mind today? Maybe there is someone you need to make an appointment to sit down with and say, “I need to say some things that are not easy to say, and it won’t be easy to hear, but this is the truth about the current condition of our relationship.”
If you will say it, and if they will hear it, (which is not up to you), with God’s help, you’ll both be able to grow and get closer to one another. The pain will be worth it. All of us have gotten ourselves into trouble by the things we have said. We know that thoughtless words can wound as deeply as any sword. We have all said things in a fit of frustration, or anger, or jealously, or fear that we later regret.
As we prepare to pray, would you allow the Lord to examine your heart today? Would you be willing to say, God, help me to think before I speak? Give me the courage to speak the truth. Then ask Him for the wisdom to know how to speak the truth that needs to be spoken in love. You may need to go ask someone to forgive you for something you have said. If the Lord brought something specific to your mind today, be willing to deal with it. Don’t put it off!
PRAYER – “Lord, teach me to value the relationship enough to THINK before I speak, to always speak the TRUTH, and to speak the truth in LOVE.” We can’t do these things in our own power. We need God’s help. And the good news is, He is ready to give it.