“The words of the godly are like sterling silver…the words of the godly encourage many.” Proverbs 10:20,21 (NLT)
My husband and I recently watched a movie in which a fast-talking literary agent was forced to limit his words when a mysterious tree with 1000 leaves suddenly grew in his yard.
The tree lost a leaf for every word the agent spoke. The agent knew he would die when the last leaf fell, so—out of desperation—he began choosing his words wisely. He also learned to listen to others before opening his mouth.
The tongue is a wild thing, Scripture says. Who can tame it? Here are three thoughts to consider before letting it flap:
- Are my words necessary? Sometimes we chatter on for no reason. The more words we speak, the greater margin for error. Practicing restraint requires self-discipline, but it shows wisdom and maturity.
- Are my words helpful? Do they benefit the listeners? Do they encourage? Do they strengthen? If yes, then bravo! If no, then they’re likely having a negative effect on the listeners. Maybe they’re causing our listeners to feel belittled or controlled. Maybe they’re causing them to feel nagged on or disheartened. Let’s ask ourselves what impact our words may be having, and choose to make it positive.
- Are my words truthful? Do we know all the facts, or do we base our comments on assumptions? Are we exaggerating to impress? Are we speaking only half-truths because we hope to sway others to our point-of-view?
The tongue is a wild thing and Scripture says it’s impossible to tame. That doesn’t give us license to say anything we want because it’s useless to try. It challenges us to do what we can to control it because doing so matters so much.
How would you change the way you talk to and about your kids, your spouse, your siblings, and your coworkers if you were suddenly given only 1000 words to say?