Towards the end of December I read through the book of Proverbs. Then I started through the Psalms. Both books are filled with wisdom and insight into the heart of God, not to mention His desires for His people. And as the Word so often does, particular verses cut to my heart. This time one reoccuring theme appeared over and over: "Watch what you say!"
Here are some of my favorite examples, and I'm going to use the NKJV because I like how it sounds the best:
"Help Lord, for the godly man ceases!
For the faithful disappear from the songs of men.
They speak idly everyone with his neighbor,
With flattering lips and a double heart they speak."
~Psalms 12: 1-2
"Like a madman who throw firebrands, arrows, and death,
Is the man who deceives his neighbor,
And says, 'I was only joking!'"
"A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back."
James 3 is often referred to when people discuss taming bad speech. But I like the above verses better because they are vivid examples of struggles I have everyday. Modern psychology tells us its good to get things off our chest, and I take that to an extreme. But this is not wise according to the Proverbs. Nor is being idle in our talk, or using joking (probably also sarcasm) in a way that does not build others up.
In hindsight, I can see the wisdom of these verses. No amount of venting has ever made me feel better. Idle talk has never truely strengthened a relationship. Sarcasm and joking? They often lead to shallow conversation and friendships that have no idea how to interact on a deep, personal level.
We need to watch what we say. And we need to help each other out in this area. Sometimes I have no idea how my words come across to others. The other night a good friend pointed out something I said that unintentionally offended her. I was reminded, once again, that we need to be ever mindful of what we say and how we say it. We must continuously be building each other up, not merely discussing trivial things and jesting all the time.