It has been said that “talk is cheap” which then makes for an awful lot of talk. After all, who doesn’t love a good deal? Think about it, when leaving a restaurant and there are free peppermints, how many people fill their pockets? How many pens do you have from the bank in your house? How large is your stash of little bars of soap found in hotels? When something is cheap, the natural reaction is to get as much of it as we can.
If talk is truly cheap, then there would be very little cost for everyone. We know this isn’t true for people. Someone will always pay for the things that are said, as someone pays for those “free” parting gifts.
“The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked” Proverbs 10:11
Have you ever stopped to consider what is coming out of your mouth? What would happen if we all were careful about what was said? What if rather than just saying the first thing that came to mind, we thought about the affect these words might have on other people? Proverbs 10 gives us a few really practical tips to improve the way we talk with and to each other. So, let me point out a few with hopes this will be encouraging to you.
Stop talking and listen. It is really hard to hear something if you are talking. When it comes to our relationships, we will do well to listen to what they are saying before speaking. At the same time, the input that we have will make a difference in terms of what comes out of our life. If the source is corrupt, then what comes out of that source will also be. So, in order for your heart to be a fountain of life, it must feed on words of life. If the input is the Word of God, the words that come out will be much more meaningful and will be “a fountain of life.” Turn off the cell phones, televisions, laptops and listen to God.
“The wise heart accepts commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” Proverbs 10:8
Live a life of integrity. Integrity is being who you are no matter who is around. Imagine the pressure to constantly have to scan the crowd for the people there and change how you talk based on them. If you need to joke coarsely, or gossip, or just speak more negatively around a certain group, then you are not living with integrity. Be who you are based on what God says, not based on what is popular. This will translate into a more consistent way you speak and you will naturally avoid some of those awkward scenarios where someone walks in while you are talking about them.
“The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.” Proverbs 10:9
Consider how what you are saying affects others. Do you bring wisdom to situations? Do people enjoy talking to you, or are you the one they avoid? Is it possible that you could bring something positive to a situation or help someone find God’s way in a situation they are in? Everything we say has an affect on other people. When we understand that it will make a difference in how we talk to each other.
” The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom” Proverbs 10:31a
“The lips of the righteous know what is fitting” Proverbs 10:32b
Hold your tongue. This last one might be the one we need to hear the most. There are times when we just need to hold our tongue and not say something that we want to say. Why? Because words get us into trouble. Words have power to cut people down and create conflict. Words, as this verse says, seem to inherently bring forth sin. Use words wisely! This is something that comes up often in youth ministry because teenagers will often have some conflict with their parents. The wise thing is to not talk back, but the first reaction is to talk back to mom. These things don’t generally end well. My point, be careful with what you say. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just keep your mouth closed.
“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19
It is so easy to tear someone down. In this age of social media, it can be even easier just to write something about someone and ruin their reputation. There is a better way to live with people than that. God has shown us that we are to be about loving one another, not tearing each other down. Words are easily said, but are not easily erased.