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You said what?

Am I the only one who has those awkward silent moments when you just stunned somebody with what you just said, then you have this shuddering feeling sweep over you that says, "I am going to regret having said that"? If you have ever found yourself thinking, "I wish I hadn't said that", you are probably in good company - you are right there with me. Most of us have experienced some moment of remorse over poorly chosen words. We just had no idea of the impact they'd make when they were actually spoken, because we didn't consider them well, nor did we consider the audience who would take those words in and sometimes even take them to heart.

Irresponsible talk makes a real mess of things, but a reliable reporter is a healing presence. (Proverbs 13:17 MSG)

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8 KJV)

My son asked me the other day what an 'exhaustive concordance of the Bible' was and I was delighted to tell him it was a way to look up all the passages about a certain topic based upon key words. I discovered this topic of our 'words' has some of the most content in looking up "words", "speech", and "communication" in the scripture. Since we all probably find ourselves in the category of "irresponsibly speaking" on occasion, I'd like to share some principles I have found in the scriptures related to our words. Carefully chosen words lead to a carefully "walked" life. (Proverbs 13:3) The words we choose to speak have a life-altering ability. Not only do they alter our lives, but those who hear them. 

Our words should be true. If you have ever spoken words that really do not conform well to the facts, you probably have either personally interpreted the facts through your own "skewed" perspective, or your intention was to mislead another by the words you spoke. Either way, the words have an ability to mislead. God's first reminder to us - be truthful. Our words should be honest. You might think this is the same as being truthful, but it carries a different type of meaning. In being honest, we are to be upright and fair. In other words, we speak in such a manner so as to be fair (consistent, even, and without bias) in what is said. 

Perspective goes a long way in determining our perception of a situation. If we determine we want a perspective which causes us to see things in a truthful manner, then the words we speak sometimes are "tempered" by this "fairness" principle - they are without bias, not misleading, and proper. When we go to a counselor about our problems, what is the counselor doing while we sit there in their office? They are listening to both sides of the story! From a neutral perspective they help us "re-frame" our personal perspective to see things from another's viewpoint. Before long, if done well, we begin to see the other person and situation a little differently.

Our words should be just. Think of this as words which actually are proper to be spoken at the time. They are given or awarded rightly. If we use words like "always", "never", or "without fail" in describing another's actions, are these words accurately reflective of the other's actions? Not usually - - try as we might, we cannot "accurately" label someone's actions as consistently, without fail, or as always being a certain way. So, we need to learn to bring "reason" into the picture. Our words should be pure. When something is considered "impure", it is usually because it has had something "added" to the mixture. Pure words don't carry a lot of contaminating "add-mixture" stuff. We don't embellish. We don't need a whole lot of examples to build our case. We need to keep our words as free from inappropriate elements as possible - perhaps this would help us not get us down so many rabbit holes in relationships.

Our words should be lovely. They should possess a beauty to them that is sincere and appeals both to the heart and the mind. Words which are insincere have a "masked" meaning. They may appeal to the mind for a while, but when they hit the heart, their true meaning becomes apparent. Our words should bring a good report. Mom always taught, "If you cannot say something nice, don't say anything at all." Our guiding principle with this concept is to allow our words to be morally excellent. If they don't reflect good morals on our part - don't speak them. If they destroy the good morals of another - don't speak them. If they would be best left unspoken - don't speak them. The questions to ask ourselves: Are they right? Are they fitting? Are they proper? If not, don't speak them.

Our words should bespeak virtue and praise. Words should lend something to the integrity of the relationship. If they don't, they tend to tear down rather than knit together. If this seems like a rather long list, it is. God gives it to us in bite-sized chunks so we have an ability to allow him to impact our words in measurable ways. If we begin at the top, working with God each step of the way, he can impact our choice of words. It may not come instantly, but as we commit to the principles taught, we become much wiser with the use of our words. We don't need to manipulate to get our message across - - it comes across in a powerful and altering way because it is tempered with the grace of God! As a closing thought, take a lesson from one who has learned, "All words need to be thought, but not all thoughts need to make it into words!" Just sayin!

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