Psalm 141:3, “Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”
It has happened on more than one occasion that while I've been in my sunroom, my hens have been outside enjoying the sunshine. Yet today a new thought came to me. Many times, out of nowhere a hen will start cackling and before long several of the hens will begin making noise, stirring up the rest of them in their coop. A lot of times I'll call out to them to see if all is okay, but today, I just mused to myself.
I now understand the saying men like to use, “Women together are like a bunch of hens cackling in a hen house. One starts talking and the rest join in.”
Although I will say, men can get like this too, so we won't put it all on the women 😉.
The more I thought about this the more ideas came to me. We all have, or know, that one friend or person, that, if you want everyone to know your business, tell them. Before long the news has spread to others. Also, they are the ones who you don't tell about surprise parties,
because they can't keep a secret.
With social media like it is now, have you also noticed how easily everything spreads? Sometimes it can be a good thing, like getting a quick prayer chain going, but other times it can cause a lot of cackling around the drinking fountain. “Did you hear about so and so...”
I will admit, I can get the same way too and have overshared a time or two, but we all can learn and grow, right? We will still slip, but we can become more aware of it when we put a pause button on our thoughts before we speak the words.
Do you remember any average conversation you had a week ago? Two days ago? Perhaps an hour ago? A person can speak many words a minute and several thousand in an hour. Oh, the many many words spoken in just one day. Some could say women speak twice as many words a day as men. Imagine the library we could fill in a lifetime.
The truth is, we all have problems with what we say. So often, we let our words carelessly roll off our tongues, letting them land on people we interact with each day without giving them a second thought. Sometimes our well-intended words have unexpected consequences.
Words seem like such a small thing but have a powerful impact. From compliments, advice, insults, instructions, lies, grumbling, and truth. Each word spoken or written has the power to build up or tear down- Proverbs 12:6, 18:21.
The tongue has a powerful influence on others and so many times we can get cackling and before long others will join in. As Christians, we need to diligently watch our words and guard our mouths against the gossip and use it to uplift Jesus.
The Bible speaks about the tongue, lips, and mouth over 170 times and Proverbs alone is filled with many verses about our words. This to me, is telling me how important our words are to God and He spends a lot of time helping us understand how best to use them.
Proverbs 10 lists seven characteristics of the lips of the righteous:
- A fountain of life- verse 11
- Discerning lips- verse 13
- Hold his tongue- verse 19
- Choice silver- verse 20
- Nourishes many- verse 21
- Brings forth wisdom- verse 31
- Knows what is fitting- verse 32
As Christians our words should be used to lift others up, share the good news of Jesus, show Jesus to others. We should have kind thoughtful words, not quick ones- James 1:19, Proverbs 31:26. Our words should bring healing- Proverbs 15:4a and be as sweet as honey- Psalm 119:103. When we do that, we could really make someone’s day, maybe even change their perspective- Colossians 4:6.
Unfortunately, we (including me) do not always think before we speak, and we can unintentionally hurt another person. There are even those who just like to talk and can't help but tell others anything that's on their mind even if it's about other people. Maybe we all need to evaluate our words and see if our hen house has been doing a little too much cackling. Are your words filled with love or hate, bitterness or blessing, complaining or compliments, victory or defeat. Words are tools we can use to make life better, but we too can misuse our tools if we aren't daily asking the Lord to guide our hearts, minds, actions, and words. One day we will all have to give an account for the words we've used- Matthew 12:36-37.
We grew up hearing and using the chant, ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.’ As an adult I see this chant quite differently in the power of words. ‘Sticks and stones can bruise your body for a few days, but words can scar your soul for life.’
“Creative words create, just active words destroy. Hurtful words crush, helpful words build up. Toxic words poison, soothing words heal. Faith filled words bring life, faithless words bring death.”- Craig Groeschel
We obviously can't control what others say about us or others, but we can control how we respond. We can join in the cackling or guard our hearts and not repeat it or let the toxic words poison our water supply- Proverbs 4:20-23.
Every day you have a choice to speak words of life or the temptation to take it. Have your words lately been poisoned tipped darts or life giving, God honoring booster shots?
There will no doubt be times we mess up in this matter. We cannot take back what we've said but we can move forward without repeating it again. It's inevitable, women will get together and chatter, and men will get together and talk. The key is not to stir the coop into a tizzy by nonsense cackling but find ways to uplift and build each other up. Keep your words about each other and leave the outsiders, outside- Ephesians 4:29. Besides, who doesn't love talking about themselves, right? 😊
The key to protecting your tongue, protecting your heart. Let the Lord speak through you in moments of anger, hurt, surprise, or when you feel like spreading gossip, oh…I mean news of someone else. Let your words bear testimony to the grace and peace that is ours in Christ and let Psalms 19:14 and 139:23-24 become your prayer, “I hope my words and thoughts please you. Lord, you are my Rock, the one who saves me.” “God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any bad thing in me. Lead me on the road to everlasting life.” (NLT)
May God enable us all to use our words as an instrument of His love and saving grace.
Spending time in God's Word helps us grow more like Him and the more He lives in our lives and in our hearts the more we will find ourselves reflecting Him and doing a lot less cackling. The only way we can accomplish this is to take the time in His Word and allowing Jesus to speak to us. Let's continue our study learning how we can grow more like Jesus and learning to trust Him.
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