I have moments in time when I just manage to say the right thing, in the right way, at the right time. Notice - I said I have moments when I do this - nothing is less consistent in my life than the words I speak! I don't think I am in this boat alone, though - I have some pretty good "rowing companions" alongside! The right words at the right time are often words of healing, or wisdom into a matter which has been difficult to figure out. They are like the first drops of rain on a parched desert floor. So how come we don't speak them more often? I think it may have to do with our "consciousness" of what we actually say and how we say it. Most of us speak, then hear what it was we said, and sometimes find ourselves mortified by what we just said! If we could just get the pattern reversed so we hear our words before we speak them, we might just find our words are a little closer to what we really desired to say when we say it.
The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver. Listening to good advice is worth much more than jewelry made of gold. A messenger you can trust is just as refreshing as cool water in summer. Broken promises are worse than rain clouds that don’t bring rain. Patience and gentle talk can convince a ruler and overcome any problem. (Proverbs 25:11-15 CEV)
How do we begin to hear before we speak? Someone once said to me, "Think all you speak, but don't speak all you think." Sage advice indeed. It is in the "mind" that we hear first - then speak second. So, hearing is not just an "ear" thing - it is a "mind" thing, as well. Maybe this is why God wants to make such an impact on our mind, purifying our thoughts and allowing his Holy Spirit to dwell within to assist us in sorting them out! He wants us to speak wisely and with grace - so our words matter and their timing is perfect.
If we are truly honest here, we often find the wise words of a close friend bringing not only clarity into muddled thoughts, but healing into wounded ones and courage into wavering ones. It is like they know the right thing to say at the right time - and in short order, their words change the course of our thinking and influence our actions. I don't think this is by accident - because God knows we sometimes get our thoughts all jumbled up and just need someone to help us sort things out.
Two forms of "words" make all the difference - patient words and gentle talk. Behind these types of words are a couple of actions - patience and gentleness or kindness. Patient words do not stem from a muddled or cluttered mind. In fact, if you have ever heard yourself being short with someone, it is probably because your mind was a little muddled or cluttered with other matters seemingly more pressing or urgent at the moment. We respond in haste - and haste brings a vast wasteland to a relationship in just a matter of minutes!
Patience indicates a certain capacity to endure, but when it comes to our words, it is more likely important because our minds need to get settled down before we speak into the moment. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in handy - he lets us know we are about to respond in haste and he prompts us to just take a deep breath, settle our thoughts, and allow the thoughts to be ordered before we speak them. Sometimes I get criticized for being too slow to respond - like others expect me to speak up right away. If they only knew what was going on in my head, they'd understand why I have this delay!
Gentleness comes into play because there are times when the mess of our minds, and that of another's mind actually create a little bit of a clash of sorts. We want to strike out when this occurs - simply because when two mixed up, out of control sets of thoughts collide, there is going to be messiness! You cannot have gentleness in your speech if you don't first exercise the patience to settle your thoughts into order within your own mind. You cannot control the thoughts of another, but you can allow the Holy Spirit and your own self-control to order your own!
Some of us have to deliver hard messages on occasion - gentleness is needed. Those who have to deliver messages which bring enlightenment need to have enduring patience simply because others may not always see things the first time they are explained! Try as we might, we can think we are doing this communicating thing well, but if we lack the skills outlined here, we are only responding out of the jumbled mess of thought within our brains at any given moment. When we learn to allow the Holy Spirit to settle us down, order our thoughts, and bring forward those best to be spoken, leaving those behind which are best to be left silent, we finally get this communication thing right! Just sayin!