Graceline: Five points to think about before you speak

December 8, 2013 

The Bible says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” - Proverbs 10:19 NASU.

In other words, “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” - KAV, Kenny Ashley Version.

The Bible has a lot to say about our words. There is tremendous power in the tongue. “Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit – you choose” - Proverbs 18:21 MSG.

Words can be Roundup or Miracle-Gro. Be careful not only how you choose your words, but when you choose to use them. The lives of people who hear them are at stake. If words are that powerful, we need to put a safety on our lips much like the psalmist when he prayed, “Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips” - Psalm 141:3 NLT.

During my lifetime, I have suffered many bouts with foot-in-mouth disease. I’ve said the wrong thing at the wrong time. I’ve also said the right thing at the wrong time. Timing is extremely important. What you have to say may be right, but a person may not be in a mood or a place to receive it. When that happens, your words, no matter how loving and well-intentioned, will bounce off them like a BB off a rhinoceros.

Allow me to share some checkpoints that have saved me from “killing” some people with my words. You need to learn from other people’s mistakes. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself. I know from experience. And you know that “experience” is the comb you get after you are bald-headed. Take my advice and use this comb while you still have some hair. OK. Are you ready?

• Checkpoint 1: Is what I am going to say the truth?

• Checkpoint 2: Does it need to be said?

• Checkpoint 3: Does it need to be said right now?

• Checkpoint 4: Will it be a blessing, and not a curse, to the hearer?

• Checkpoint 5: Can I truly say it in love?

If you can answer yes to all five checkpoints, then by all means say it. But if you say no to a single one of them, wait. Remember, God is guarding your lips. He will give you the go-ahead in His time and even put the words in your mouth. Just trust Him.

I never got in trouble by something I did not say.

Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey, which meets for worship on Sundays at Oakridge Middle School. Visit for more information.

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