Zip That Lip

Speech…that remarkable ability to communicate our thoughts to one another with words is truly a wonderful gift given to us by our creator. What makes it even more amazing is that of all the members of the animal kingdom, the human race is the only one in which its members are able to talk to each other with words. All other animals can only make sounds, but man uses words. God placed such an importance on our speech ability that half of our brain was allotted to the skill of language. That might explain why we love to talk, some much more than others.

Research has shown that an average person will speak enough words in one year to fill 66 books, each containing 800 pages. That’s a lot of words. In this day of mass communications when so many people are saying so much about everything, words can be in such and out of us like water going though a sieve. Words are powerful. They are so powerful that even a single one of them can change a destiny. Just think of the effect on lives that the simple words yes and no have had. Your speaking forth words to others is one of the most influential things you will ever be doing. If you were able to look back and examine the things that influenced your life (good or bad) up to now, I’ll wager it would be something someone said to you. Every day each one of us throws out thousands of word-seeds. A great number of these will fall on the inside of another person to become a part of them forever. When we speak, we should seriously consider what kind of word-seed we are sowing in the fertile mind soil of another.

I know of no faster, and yet no more lasting, way that we can hurt another person than to cut them with a word. Likewise, there is no more effective way to brighten and cheer someone’s day than with a word fitly spoken.

Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken and in due season is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

No one has yet discovered a better way to transmit what is inside one person to the inside of another than through words. A slap to the face or a kiss doesn’t get past the outer layer of skin, but a word spoken can infiltrate to the very depth of the soul and we live with its influence forever. Learning to manage our mouth by controlling our words should be near the top of our priority list. I read these words recently and liked what they said. I think you will too. “We have often heard the statement that talk is cheap, and maybe it is, but so is air and water, but that doesn’t mean that they are unimportant to life.”

The words one speaks are very important to your life and also to the life of those you choose to speak them to. God used words to create His world (“and God said…let there be…”). In a similar way, you and I create our personal everyday world by the words we speak and the words others speak to us. They influence our thinking and our actions in a very commanding way.

Many times in His Word, God expresses a concern that we guard our mouth against the misuse of our words to others. He is deeply interested in not only what we say, but also in how we say it. He cautions us in Ephesians 4: 29,

“Do not use any harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” (GNB)

Have you ever noticed how careful we are with the words we give to God in prayer? That’s the attitude God wants us to have when we communicate with others. We should practice being just as careful with the words we speak to others as we are with those we speak to God.

The verse in Ephesians suggests to us three guidelines to follow when choosing words to speak to others.

Ask yourself:

  1. Are my words helpful and not hurtful to the hearer?
  2. Are my words constructive in building up the person I am talking to? Will the words I speak encourage them?
  3. Are my words something that person needs to hear? Are my words really needful? Do they really need to be spoken at all?

Three keys to managing the words of your mouth as given in Scripture.

  1. Think before you speak.

Proverbs 16:23 “Intelligent people think before they speak. What they say then, is more persuasive.”

  • Contemplate before you communicate.
  • Plain language “Put your mind in gear before you open your mouth.”

2. Consider the consequences of your communication. Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”

  • What you speak can tear down or build up, hurt or heal, encourage or discourage, win friends or make enemies.
  • You have the freedom of choosing what words you speak. Sometimes you might have to eat the words you speak. Make them sweet and palatable.
  • You’re never persuasive when you’re abrasive. When speaking always give more strokes than pokes.

3. Ask God for help in managing the words of your mouth.

Psalms 14:3, “Set a guard over my mouth O Lord. Keep a watch over the door of my lips.” The Living Bible says it like this, “Help me Lord to keep my mouth shut.”

  • “There is a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7) Ask God for the wisdom to know when to do both.

You have a choice:

  • You can choose to allow negative words to dominate your thoughts and speech. If you do, your world will be filled with depression, worry, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem and failure. These are the products of negative thinking and speaking. You’ll see your potential to succeed die on the vine. Those around you will also feel the effects of your negativism.
  • You can choose to allow powerful, positive faith-filled words to dominate your thoughts and speech. The results will astound you. You will create an atmosphere of enrichment around you that will cause people to seek your friendship and to desire to be around you because you make them feel good.

Psalms 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord.”

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