“To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!”
When you say something is as important as what you say. There is no right answer that is always appropriate. It is a joy to give a helpful answer to a problem, but it must be spoken at the right time and in the right way. Timing is critical.
If you want a productive and effective life, then learn how to be disciplined in your speech and use it for the benefit and encouragement of others. As we have seen in this series on communication, scripture provides many admonitions and instructions on how to be disciplined and effective in your speech. Consider the following directives in scripture with respect to managing what you say and how.
“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.
Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.” (Proverbs 12.16-19)
Prudence is the discipline to manage your emotions — and your words — rather than react. It’s verbal and emotional restraint. If someone’s goal is to hurt you and you react emotionally to their hurtful words/actions, then your emotional reaction will be seen (and celebrated) by them as a victory. Ignore them. Don’t give them what they want.
“Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit.”
Wise people tell the truth; they speak words that are honest and that reflect reality. Therefore, they can be trusted. But false witnesses are fraudulent and misleading; they purposely seek to distort and deceive. They cannot be trusted.
If you step back and pay careful attention, you will notice that people are quick to see the “false witness and utter deceit” in the messages of other people, but don’t seem to notice it in themselves. There is a disturbing — and dangerous — lack of self-awareness in our society today.
And there are times when people are aware of their own bias, but they lack the courage to acknowledge it and change. This, too, is foolish.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Foolish people are reckless and rash with their words; the way they talk is harmful and hurtful. They tear down. Wise people are disciplined and careful with their words; the way they talk is helpful and healing. They build up.
From the President to the Congress to the press to the professors in universities to the students in classrooms to the activists in the streets to the citizens doing work every day … DON’T USE RASH WORDS! We desperately need people who use their words to build up and heal.
“Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.”
The point here is that a lie may last for awhile, but inevitably it will be found out. Truth, on the other hand, may not be immediately evident, but it will eventually prevail and it will endure. Time will side with the truth. Seek the truth and speak the truth.
The Lord is calling.