We speak an average of 16,000 words per day. (And FYI, the misconception that women speak three times as much as men has been debunked.) Ok, so we all use a lot of words – but are those words full of wisdom? Jesus said that it is not what goes into our mouths that makes us unclean, but what comes out of our mouths (Matt 15:11). The truth is – a lot of garbage goes out of our mouths every day.
I wish I could say that, as a follower of Jesus and as a pastor, that every word that flowed out of my mouth was dripping with wisdom – but that just isn’t true! I often make mistakes, or speak rashly, or hurt people with careless criticism. Sometimes I am even trying to make a compliment and it comes out so badly that I insult someone!
In making up my word “verbaliwisdomified”, the idea is to have wisdom flowing from our mouths to build others up. This is about truth, encouragement, and grace. In a world of pop culture and social media, there is not always a lot of eternal wisdom floating around. To find godly wisdom, a good place to start is with the teachings of Jesus and the books of Proverbs and James. If we are saturated with the wisdom in these books, we have a better chance of filtering out the foolishness around us, and guarding our mouths from the foolishness that can come out of us.
The Bible seems to (repeatedly) make the point that if we could only control our mouths, then we would have gotten everything else figured out (James 3). We tend to think that what we speak is the smallest of sins; the Bible makes the point that verbal sins are a big deal. We say, “I didn’t really mean those words, and they mean nothing.” The Bible is saying, “What you said revealed anger and bitterness, and they need to be dealt with.”
I have been trying recently to really live out the verse: “be quick to listen and slow to speak” (James 1:19). It is a lot harder than I thought! I have also been trying to pray more with people and give less advice. My hope is that I can have more of the verbaliwisdomified that the Bible is pointing towards.
I would write more, but I have probably already used up too many words for today. Follow Christ and speak with His wisdom.