Scripture has much to say about what is we say - our words matter more than we might just think. The problem for so many of us is that we speak before we think! Scripture points toward "helpful conversation", "careful words", and "truth talk". Now, at first these three may not seem very significant, but when we put them all together, it could just impact how it is we speak to each other and what it is we put into words.
The good acquire a taste for helpful conversation; bullies push and shove their way through life. Careful words make for a careful life; careless talk may ruin everything. A good person hates false talk; a bad person wallows in gibberish. (Proverbs 13:2-3, 5 MSG)
Looking at this carefully, we see "who" this passage applies to: "the good", those who "live a careful life", and "a good person". Most of us want to be counted among the "good" and the "careful", don't we? So, if this applies to us, then we had better sit up and take notice of what it has to say about what we say!
- Helpful conversation is an acquired taste. This points to the fact that helpful conversation is not always the natural thing for us. In fact, most of us would agree that our conversation can gravitate into the realms of frivolous, coarse, or even downright mean on occasion, all because it is a more "natural" response for us. If you were to look up "acquired taste", you would find that it refers to something which is "unfamiliar" to us at first, but which becomes gradually more liked or accepted as time passes. This suggest to us that our communication will actually change over time the more we focus on seeing positive change in the words we speak.
- Care-filled lives are marked by "care-full" words. To be careful implies we are somewhat cautious - there is a caution in what we express, not because we are afraid or intimidated to express what needs to be said, but because we value the relationships in which these words are spoken. When you are "care-full", you are concerned with the outcomes - so you place a watchman over your mouth (the best one I know of is the Holy Spirit). You don't allow the words to just "bubble out", but rather you become a little introspective and "care-filled" in your choice of words. You don't mince your words, but you don't always say everything you immediately think - for those may not be the most "care-filled" words you could imagine!
- There is a vast difference between helpful words and just plain gibberish. If we think of gibberish as that which an infant speaks as they are learning to form their words, we might just understand this idea a little closer to the point. The infant "thinks" they are communicating what their parent or other child will understand - all because they don't know any better. Yet the parent or other child in play with them has absolutely no clue what they are babbling on about. They may think it is "cute" at first, but in time if this is all the child ever says, the parent will begin to worry about the "arrested development" of their child. Why? As we grow up we are supposed to learn how to actually speak intelligibly. I don't think this is too far from the truth about what God expects for us as his children either. He expects us to move from words of "gibberish" to words which are actually helpful in communicating need, helpfulness, etc. I will be the first to admit that moving from words which don't really make a whole lot of sense into a place where the words we speak "connect the dots" and actually express meaning into one's life is a learned art.
- Truth matters when we are speaking with each other, but the "tone" or "tenor" of our words matter just as much. The "tenor" of our words is what many refer to as getting someone's drift in conversation. Maybe everything doesn't need to be spelled out in as much detail as we may want to bring forth at first. Others who are connected to us in relationship have a way of catching the drift of our conversation much easier when our words are consistently spoken with honesty and integrity. This is the danger with coarseness of speech as is the case when sarcasm is the tendency within our discussions. A little sarcasm is always going to be there, but when we use sarcasm without caution, we sometimes change the tenor of our speech without even realizing what we are doing within the relationship.
Careful people speak "care-filled" words - words which connect them in relationship, build up each other, and envelop others in the grace of God. Just sayin!