It’s happened to all of us. Perhaps we were well meaning, perhaps we were tired, perhaps we just didn’t think. Regardless of why, out the words came – and as soon as they did, we realized how wrong they were. We are left, panicked, flustered, or embarrassed.
Did those words just come out of MY mouth?
And we wish we could gather up the words like spilled flour on the floor. But just like the spilled flour, even with several attempts to clean up, the residual effects are still evident. Disheartened we sit on the floor with our flour dust, chagrin and hindsight.
We have all been given the gift of good, fitting words.
Words that make us feel loved and valued. Words that perhaps corrected us but also built us up. Words that gave grace and wisdom, mercy and knowledge. Words well spoken, thoughtfully cultivated, expressed in love. Words that perhaps made us think or wonder, “How could they have known what I needed to hear?” Like water to a thirsty person in the desert, well seasoned, thoughtful words are drunk up by a thirsty soul. What an opportunity we hold in our hands to bless others! Think of these scriptures that talk of our words:
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. ~ Proverbs 25:11
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. ~ Colossians 4:6
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~ Ephesians 4:29
How do we do this? How can our words fit the occasion and the person? How do we season them? How do we build up others?
I think, perhaps, it begins with something very difficult, no matter how old we get: thinking before we speak.
And then comes the task of filling our thoughts, our hearts with good, rich, right things, as the Psalmist tell us:
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. ~ Psalm 119:11
From that overflow comes fitly spoken and gracious words.