The Bible’s Viewpoint
Why Your Speech Matters
Following their polite conversation—and not knowing that the microphone was still on—the prime minister calls the elderly woman he just met bigoted and complains that his staff should have kept her away. The nation gasps at his characterization of the woman. With his reputation tarnished, the prime minister loses his bid for reelection just eight days later.
NO HUMAN can perfectly control the tongue. (James 3:2) Still, the above experience reveals that words matter. Your reputation, your career, and even the success or failure of your relationships with others center on how you speak.
But did you know that your words do even more? The Bible explains that your speech is actually a window into the inner person, revealing who you really are. Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) Since your words reflect the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that make you unique, it is important that you analyze your speech patterns closely. Can the Bible help? Consider the following.
How to Improve Your Speech Habits
Words begin as thoughts. In order to improve what you say, you need to improve how you think. Notice how applying God’s Word can influence your thoughts, which can in turn influence your speech.
Fill your heart with good things. The Bible describes such good things by saying: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well spoken of, whatever virtue there is and whatever praiseworthy thing there is, continue considering these things.”—Philippians 4:8.
Following that good advice will help you to dismiss improper thoughts. Remember that your thoughts are fed and fortified by what you see and read. So to avoid negative and unclean thoughts, avoid negative influences. That means staying away from violent and obscene entertainment. (Psalm 11:5; Ephesians 5:3, 4) Instead, direct your mind toward clean, positive ideas. The Bible can help you to do that. For example, read Proverbs 4:20-27; Ephesians 4:20-32; and James 3:2-12. See how applying the principles contained in these scriptures can improve your speech. *
Filter your words carefully. “There exists the one speaking thoughtlessly as with the stabs of a sword, but the tongue of the wise ones is a healing,” says Proverbs 12:18. If you find that you often ‘stab,’ or hurt, others’ feelings, you would do well to make an effort to think before you speak. Heed the excellent advice found at Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer, but the mouth of the wicked ones bubbles forth with bad things.”
Try setting a goal. Over the next month, be determined not to say the first thing that comes to your mind, especially when you are provoked. Instead, reflect on the scriptures cited in this article, and make a conscious effort to speak in a wise, loving, and calm manner. (Proverbs 15:1-4, 23) But that is not all.
Pray for God’s help. A Bible writer prayed: “Let the sayings of my mouth and the meditation of my heart become pleasurable before you, O Jehovah.” (Psalm 19:14) Let Jehovah God know of your desire to use your speech in a way that pleases him and makes you pleasant company for others. Proverbs 18:20, 21 says: “Make your words good—you will be glad you did. Words can bring death or life!”—Contemporary English Version.
Use God’s Word as a mirror. The Bible is like a mirror with which you can closely examine yourself. (James 1:23-25) For example, as you reflect on the following three Bible principles, ask yourself, ‘How do my overall speech and reputation measure up?’
“An answer, when mild, turns away rage, but a word causing pain makes anger to come up.” (Proverbs 15:1) Do you speak in a mild, peaceable manner?
“Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29) Does your speech build up those around you?
“Let your utterance be always with graciousness, seasoned with salt, so as to know how you ought to give an answer to each one.” (Colossians 4:6) Do you try, even in difficult situations, to make what you have to say gracious and easier for others to hear?
By correcting the flaws you see in a mirror, you become more presentable to others and you feel better about yourself. The same benefits await you if you improve your speech by looking into the mirror of God’s Word.
^ par. 9 You can read the Bible online at www.watchtower.org.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● What does your speech reflect?—Luke 6:45.
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What we say affects our reputation and our relationships