Think First

I love to write. I love the actual art of writing. I can spend hours carefully considering a paragraph or a sentence or even a word.

I agonize over using just the right words to express the sentiment that is deep within my heart. Sometimes the words flow freely, and sometimes my  tears of frustration water the seeds that eventually grow into the finished work. I do not need anyone to convince me of the power of the written word, but I have recently found myself deeply convicted over the flippant way that I so often speak words without thinking.

I am a talker. I recognize that not everyone is. My husband genuinely has no idea when I try to explain to him that I rarely stop to think before I speak. I suppose it is a bit like putting my mouth on autopilot. I feel the situation that I am in and simply talk. Sometimes, my words are beneficial and appropriate. And sometimes … well, you can probably imagine what sometimes happens. I can miss what someone is saying because I am not listening. I can repeat myself multiple times without even realizing it. My words can be so empty.

“I can miss what someone is saying because I am not listening.”

King Solomon had some very interesting things to say on this subject in the beginning verses of Ecclesiastes chapter five. Even though he may have been specifically referring to interaction with God, I have been convicted by an application for my interaction with others as well. Here are some of the gems that I have mined from the first seven verses of Ecclesiastes chapter five: “…keep your ears open and your mouth shut…let your words be few…too many words make you a fool…don’t let your mouth make you sin…talk is cheap.” Solomon’s point hits me hard!

As if the words of the wisest man other than Jesus are not enough, James adds a few more nuggets to this topic. James 1:26 states, “If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” James offers additional things to consider in the first twelve verses of chapter three such as: “…if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches…the tongue is a flame of fire…it is restless and evil, full of deadly poison.” Ouch!

These words of wisdom have left me pleading in my prayer time as the psalmist did centuries ago, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer,” (Psalm 19:14). I desperately want to learn to think as carefully about the words I speak as I do about the words that I write. The Bible is clear that regardless of their form, words are powerful. I want to learn to listen to God’s promptings to think first whether I pick up my pen or open my mouth.

So what about you? Do you think first before you speak? When have you used your words to bring God glory? Can you think of a time when you were convicted of allowing empty words to escape your lips?

-Michelle Maenche