Ministry Mamas, I want to introduce you to my new friend Karen Finn. She is the author of Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?, a teen-girl Bible study about their spiritual fruit. In the near future, we will be seeing a review of her book here at the blog. But until then, I won’t keep you from reading this great post! ~The Ministry Mama
Next month, I will be speaking at a Ladies meeting on taming the tongue. I’m not sure why my pastor’s wife asked me to be the spokeswoman for such a tricky topic; I am certainly not an expert on the matter! But then again… who is?
Here’s a fun fact you may or may not be aware of: the female gender is known for its chattiness. A study conducted by the University of Maryland’s College of Medicine in 2013, found that on average, women speak about 20,000 words per day, while men speak only 7,000 words per day. This statistic is probably not all that surprising. Most women would agree that it’s fairly accurate. A woman’s ability to talk….and talk….is commonly joked about in social circles and portrayed in cartoons, television sit-coms, etc.
It doesn’t matter what career you have, what ministry you’re involved in or whether you are at home raising your children. As a child of God, you are responsible for your words–every single one of them. Your speech identifies you as a fool or a follower. And this “little member” (James 3:5) can be the tool for a fool or used as a device to be nice.
If you could calculate the amount of words you’ve spoken in one day, how would you categorize them? Are most of your conversations repetitive or insignificant? Does your communication with others generate laughter or a positive response? Have you used your words to encourage or bring restoration? Did you engage in a hearty discussion with a stranger, learning something new about that person? (I found out today that my cashier at Wal-Mart is a fellow chocoholic!)
First Peter 1:15-17 states, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” The word conversation in this passage is translated in the Greek as “behavior.” Our actions and attitudes are reflected by what we say, how we say it and why we say it.
Before you open your mouth to say something, please consider following these points:
1. Say what you mean. A.K.A.: “Think before you speak.”
I like the instruction given in Psalm 15:1, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” Our impulse to respond abruptly or harshly to a comment can instigate a raging war; a verbal one, that is. Frequently, someone’s feelings get hurt and friendships are broken— all because one of the parties involved failed to be more patient with their tongue. It’s best for us women to think soft so that we can talk soft.
In the Bible, there is much to be said about the danger of a misused tongue. It’s been compared to a raging fire (James 3:6), a poison (James 3:8) and a razor (Psalm 52:2). Choose your words carefully; knowing that once they have been uttered, you cannot take them back. The wrong choice of dialogue can inflict much pain and heartache.
Having a discerning spirit to recognize what should or should not be said, will also be a testimony to others. Consider this statement: “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.” (James 1:26) It requires quite a bit of strength of character to NOT say what’s on your mind. What comes out of our mouths should honor God. We ought to always strive to make a good impression with what we say.
2. Mean what you say.
No one likes or respects a hypocrite and a liar. But, that is exactly how you will appear to others, if you are loose-lipped, full of gossip and known to give a false compliment or statement. Ouch.
First Peter 2:1 says, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking.” Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in Chapter 4:31 gives a similar command: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” It takes a conscious effort to perform this act of “laying aside” or “putting away” the culprits of a tainted tongue.
I am so thankful that we have a God who loves us and is always ready and willing to forgive us! We don’t have to stay in bondage to our sin, but can rely on His perfect and precious promises to cleanse us and give us a fresh start. Colossians 3:9-10 explains it this way, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:” This newly established relationship with our Heavenly Father is what should motivate us to speak honestly and honorably to others!
3. Don’t say it mean.
Have you ever been offended by someone’s tone of voice? It wasn’t so much what they said, but how they said it. Was the person speaking even aware that they had a poor attitude or a brusque manner in dealing with you?
Our speech has to have balance-not too hot (words of anger and rage); not too cold (rude, course talking). And, as described in Colossians 4:6, our conversations should possess grace: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Just like salt is used to flavor and enhance the taste of a food item (if used in the correct proportions), we must remember to interject a bit of grace into our speech. Grace is representative of that which is beauty, elegance and charm. When we keep this Scripture truth at the forefront of our minds (and our mouths), we will ultimately see the benefits and blessings that God bestows.
Here are some suggestions for a grace-flavored conversation:
-Be a peacemaker. Allow your words to be soothing and pleasant to hear.
-Encourage your listener by noticing a job well done or pay them a compliment.
-Try not to focus the entire discussion on your interests; share the dialogue.
-Take the time to discover another’s opinion on a matter.
-Learn to be a good listener.
-Illustrate an attitude of gratitude in all things.
-Smile and make lots of eye contact!
-Give God the glory for what He has done and is doing in your life.
As mentioned earlier in this article, a woman will speak, on average, 20,000 words a day. Rather than counting the number of words spoken, why not make your words count?
More about Karen: After years of freelance writing for both secular and Christian publications, Karen bravely ventured into the world of self-publishing and Precept Publishing was born! Karen has been involved in youth and women’s ministries for more than 20 years. As she became more familiar with teaching teen girls, Karen developed a desire to see more fundamental material provided for young women. “Is Your Fruit Sweet or Sour?” is much more than a Bible study book. It is a resource for women of all ages, which shows them the importance of feeding upon God’s Word daily. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Karen resides in the sunny South (South Carolina to be exact) with her family. Please visit her website at www.PreceptPublishing.com or her own personal blog called “Because The Heart Matters.”