OUR SPEECH BETRAYS US
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” These are the words of the wise man Solomon, in Proverbs 25:11. If we are wise, we will guard our speech because our speech does indeed betray us. You do not have to talk to a stranger for very long before you know quite a bit about him from his manner of speech, and whether one has friends or not depends to a large extent upon whether or not one controls his tongue. Anybody can just open his mouth and speak his mind; and with some people, this doesn’t take very long; however, it takes character to think before speaking and then be careful of what is said. The fastest way that I know to lose friends is just to say whatever comes to mind without regard to whether or not it is offensive, and what a terrible thing it would be not to have friends. Usually, those who are so quick to speak are the ones most easily offended. As the old saying goes, they can dish it out but can’t take it. And those who are so anxious to “give everybody a piece of their mind” usually can’t spare it!
The same principle is true in religious matters. You are not going to convert many people with a “holier than thou” attitude. Whenever the apostle Paul said, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt,” (Col.4:6) what did he mean? He meant that Christians should speak with gentleness and kindness, with the good of the hearer in mind. Salt has two purposes: one to enhance taste and the other to preserve. Of course, we must recognize the difference between being kind and condoning error. We can never afford to let someone who is in religious error think that we uphold their error, and sometimes we have to be firm in declaring the truth; but, it can still be done in love. The people who go all out to win an argument sometimes do indeed win the argument, but many times while winning the argument, they are losing a friend and an opportunity of teaching the truth. If anyone has fewer friends than a “loud mouth” it is another “loud mouth” who can never be wrong. Our purpose as Christians is to bring souls to Christ. We need to let this be our purpose, and work in that direction, remembering that wisdom is not measured by the abundance of one’s words. Let us always make sure that “the mind is engaged before the tongue in put in gear!!”