Many young people, like James and Marie, struggle with the challenge of controlling their words. The Bible acknowledges the power and potential danger of the tongue, comparing it to a fire that can ignite great forests (James 3:5, 6). This chapter aims to provide guidance on mastering the art of thoughtful and kind speech.
Understanding the Challenges of Speech
The Impact of Imperfection
James 3:2 reminds us that all stumble in speech, a consequence of human imperfection. Anna's admission of her imperfect control over her brain and tongue reflects this universal struggle.
The Pitfalls of Excessive Talking
Proverbs 10:19 warns of the dangers of talking too much. Excessive speech increases the likelihood of saying something offensive or hurtful. Julia’s observation about Jesus’ often silent wisdom exemplifies the virtue of measured speech.
The Harms of Sarcasm
Proverbs 12:18 speaks against thoughtless speech, which includes sarcasm. As Oksana notes, sarcasm, even if meant humorously, can hurt others and should be avoided.
Biblical Principles for Taming the Tongue
The Virtue of Silence
Psalm 4:4 advises on the wisdom of staying silent at times. Laura’s experience highlights the benefit of pausing before speaking, especially when emotions are high.
Testing Words Before Speaking
Job 12:11 encourages testing words as one would taste food. This involves asking oneself if what they are about to say is true, kind, necessary, and respectful. Romans 14:19, Matthew 7:12, Romans 12:10, and Ecclesiastes 3:7 provide guiding questions for this self-examination.
Philippians 2:3 teaches the importance of humility, which can prevent hurtful speech and promote apology and reconciliation in case of a transgression.
Strategies for Thoughtful Communication
Pause and Reflect
Taylor’s method of pausing to consider the impact of her words is a practical way to control speech. This brief pause allows for reflection on the appropriateness and kindness of one's words.
Understanding Context and Perspective
Brandon’s advice to consider the circumstances and context of what others say helps in responding appropriately and avoiding misunderstandings.
Fostering Positive Attitudes
Jessica points out that avoiding negative thoughts can help prevent saying hurtful things. Working on one's outlook and attitude towards people and situations can significantly reduce the temptation to speak harmfully.
Developing Effective Communication Skills
Practicing Active Listening
Learning to listen more and speak less can help in understanding others better and responding more thoughtfully.
Engaging in Constructive Conversations
Focusing on building others up through speech, as advised in Ephesians 4:29, can transform conversations into opportunities for encouragement and growth.
Seeking Forgiveness When Necessary
Matthew 5:23, 24 emphasizes the importance of seeking forgiveness quickly if one has hurt someone with their words. This act of humility can heal wounds and strengthen relationships.
Mastering the art of thoughtful speech is a lifelong journey. It requires self-awareness, practice, and a commitment to biblical principles. By understanding the power of words, exercising restraint, and cultivating positive attitudes, young people can learn to use their speech to build up rather than tear down, reflecting the love and wisdom of Christ in their interactions.
About the Author
EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored over 220+ books. In addition, Andrews is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).