We all use them every day. It has been estimated that a woman uses, on the average, about 7,000 words a day while a man uses about 2,000. The question that hits me today is:
“What will I do with today’s budget of words?”
We need words to communicate. Dictionary.com defines “communicate” as:
- to give or interchange thoughts, feelings, information, or the like, by writing, speaking, etc.
to express thoughts, feelings, or information easily or effectively.
It is vital to our connection with & to one another that we express ourselves. Yet the words we choose are critical to the health of that communication.
Eight words spoken with a wrong voice inflection can change the course of an entire night. We say something without thinking & it comes out all wrong. Perhaps it was meant jokingly but does not quite come out as humorous as we hoped. At times, we may not communicate clearly & we are left to wonder what went wrong. But in a second, the night changes.
With that being said, (yes, pun was intended), how are we to choose our words?
David, in Psalm 39:1 offers us some advice:
“I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth.”
Probably not the advice that we want to hear. Surely not the fashion statement we want to make 🙂 And it doesn’t get any easier in other versions:
- “I will keep my mouth with a bridle” (ASV)
- “I promised to keep my mouth shut” (CEB)
- “I will hold my tongue” (NLT)
Any way that you slice it, David had learned the valuable lesson of using his words, and using them wisely. This is truly the challenge ever before us. Anyone that knows me, knows that I enjoy talking with people. My nickname growing up was “Chatty Cathy”, named after the talking doll that became popular when I was a kid. So to remain silent for the rest of my life is not going to happen. There must be an alternative to the “muzzle”.
Again, David offers us advice in the form of a prayer:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 HCSB).
David knew, he knew, that left to himself his words could wreak havoc. So he did the only thing he knew would change that – he prayed about the words that he would speak. “Only the Word of God applied by the Spirit of God could make his mouth & heart so pleasing before God’s all-knowing gaze.” (Holman Old Testament Commentary, Psalms, Volume 11 – page 101).
The same is true for us today.