What is the cost of a leaky faucet? When those washers are worn and the thing just doesn't shut off correctly, allowing it to drip what appears to be nothing more than small drips of water - how much do those drips actually end us costing us? If you are like my dad was, not very much - because as soon as there was any sign of dripping, he break out the toolbox and go to work to replace the seals again. If you are like most other people, you might find it costs you a bit more - because you wait until it annoys you enough to do something about it! Leaky faucets eventually get our attention - especially once you see how much the leak increases with time. There is a tremendous amount of waste in what a leaky faucet can cost us in the course of time. The tongue can be like a leaky faucet at times - first with only small 'leaks', but eventually when the tongue is left 'unchecked' for too long, the 'leak' gets to be pretty annoying and causes a whole lot of damage. Imagine how much "relational waste" occurs with the leaky faucet of an uncontrolled tongue!
A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire. Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise; fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense. (Proverbs 15:1-2)
It is a joy to be the recipient of gentle words - considering that they bring healing, turn away anger, and even calm emotional upset. They are the basis of relationships that are solid, growing, and heart-committed. "Drippy faucets" in relationships can be likened to those individuals who use gossip to "one-up" the other person - sharing without discretion things that are none of their business, or that should have been maintained in the confidence of relationship. "Drippy faucets" leave signs of their presence - but not exactly good ones. Have you ever seen a sink where a faucet has been dripping for a long, long time? In the sink, there is a tell-tale sign that the faucet needs repair - little rings of lime and rust building up in a fashion that "paints" a clear image of the leak. Unless that "drippy faucet" is fixed, it will continue to leave deeper and more permanent damage. If one repeated drip after another can cause significant erosion over time, imagine how much one 'misspent' word in a relationship after another and another can do within that relationship.
Good relationships require the right building materials - the right resources can yield a strong bond. As important as it is to have good building materials with which to build, it is equally important to maintain what is built - but we often don't do anything about problems until they cause us some other form of problems. It has to be costing us something within the relationship before we finally break down and fix it! Sometimes we abandon what we don't think is worth fixing - leaving behind the damage to just continue to do the erosive work set in motion by our misspent words. When we begin to lose sight of the small things, like a drippy faucet, we may not know the damage being caused until it is too late. When we see the outline of lime in the sink, we might begin to think we should direct some attention toward fixing the leak. But...when it keeps us up nights, or the drip moves into a continual stream of water that won't shut off, we finally do something about that leak!
It is equally important that we deal with the "leaky faucets" in our relationships. If we are one leaky faucets - it is time for an overhaul of our "internal plumbing" to get that leak under control. If we are being "dripped on" by one of those 'leaky faucets', it is time to call attention to the leak within the relationship and deal with it! As important as words are, we need to continually consider the power of our words. We don't want to use them indiscriminately, nor do we want to be 'naggers' (those drip, drip, drip kind of words). We want to learn to use our words wisely - to build up, not tear down; to bring near, not push away; and to encourage, not criticize. Words matter as much as the drip of that faucet - it may not seem like it at first, but that first drip may set in motion a steady stream of drips if left unchecked! Just sayin!