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Slow to Speak

by Bethany Wouters, Senior Editor

Oftentimes, I find myself regretting things I’ve said.

As a human, I tend to do the opposite of what God’s commanded us: “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to wrath” (James 1:19). I don’t allow myself to think about what I’m going to say. I just speak. Not only that, the majority of the time the things I say are extremely foolish, and even hurtful.

“But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” James 3:8-12

As we mature in the Lord, we become more and more sensitive to our sin. We don’t necessarily sin more – instead, the closer we are with God, the more we see just how imperfect we are, in need of His Spirit to transform us into His image. God reveals to us the sin we might not have even been aware of within us, and, as we continue to grow in our relationship, we see just how often we fall short.

When I was younger, I didn’t think that a lot of the things I said were “bad” (meaning rude, hurtful, discouraging, etc.). Now, though, as I grow both in age and in spiritual maturity, I’ve found that I actually say a lot of meaningless things. When I’m having a conversation with someone, I sometimes take jokes too far and end up saying something mean. Other times, a friend will make me upset and I’ll want to retaliate, making them feel how hurt or frustrated they’ve made me.

Too frequently do I say the first thing that comes to my mind, instead of allowing the Spirit to guide my words. I don’t always “think before I speak”, like my parents told me to time and time again. And, unfortunately, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t usually kind, edifying, or encouraging in any way. What I choose to say is enormous in my walk with the Lord, as speech is one way I emulate Christ.

Did Jesus say anything meaningless or rude? No. Some people might have thought so, but every word spoken by Him had purpose. Ours should, too.

I work here at Murrieta Hot Springs Christian Conference Center, where we see thousands of people throughout the year come and meet with the Lord. Part of my job is to ensure they are refreshed in every way possible. How refreshing would I be to them if I wasn’t encouraging with my words, but rather discouraging and hurtful?

It’s been my prayer for the last several months that the Lord show me how to refrain from saying everything that comes into my head, and even to remain silent when needed. Learning how to control my tongue has been a useful lesson in my Christian walk, and I’m thankful that it’s a lesson I’ll be continuing to learn for the foreseeable future.

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