As precious as the right to speak is, saying the right thing at the right time in the right manner is even more valuable. In this regard I like the story that comes out of the life of the great scientist Albert Einstein. Once, as a guest of honor at a dinner given in his honor by the president of Swarthmore College, he was called on to speak. To everyone’s surprise he rose to his feet and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very sorry but I have nothing to say” and sat down. Heads turned, no one had seen anything quite like it. A few moments later Einstein stood to his feet once more and said, “In case I do have something to say, I’ll come back.” Sure enough, six months later he wired the president of the college with the message, “Now I have something to say.” Another evening was convened, and Einstein made a speech.
In this episode from Einstein’s life we are reminded that just because we have a right to speak doesn’t mean we should speak. Words are like dollars bills, they should be spent wisely. The words we speak, the time we choose to speak, the tone with which we speak are all critical to good communication. And good communication is critical to a happy and healthy life. In Proverbs 21:23 we are told, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles.” In Proverbs 13:3 we are told, “He who guards his mouth preserves life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” In Psalm 141:3 we read, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth, keep watch over the door to my lips.”
Words are powerful things and must be watched and weighed at all times. The book of Proverbs contains 915 verses, and 222 of those verses deal with the use of our tongue and the effect of our words. Almost a quarter of Proverbs speaks to the issue of speech. It is clear that God is underscoring in this enormous amount of instruction the vital importance of wise talk. Proverbs 18:21 says, “Life and death is in the power of the tongue.” To a large measure the quality of our lives depends on the quality and quantity of our words. Words build up, and words tear down. Words help, and words harm. Words bless, and words curse. Some people’s words are a wellspring of life, while other people’s words are like the piercing of a sword (Prov. 10:11; 12:18).
With that in mind here is an acrostic on words that will help you watch your mouth:
W– Weigh your words (Prov. 15:28; 17:27-28; 21:23)
O – Order your words (Prov. 15:23; 25:11)
R– Redeem your words (Prov. 10:11, 31-32; 16:13)
D– Direct your words (Prov. 14:5; 15:7; 31:8-9)
S– Soften your words (Prov. 15:1-4; 16:23-24)
It has been well said that in company we need to guard our words and in solitude we need to guard our thoughts!
Today, don’t forget to watch your mouth!