grace & eloquence: speech transformation

So far we have learned the common sense: words hold power. With our words we can glorify God through genuine encouragement.

The words we say takes a great deal of prudence. We must decide when it is beneficial to speak and when it would be pointless, meaningless or even destructive if we spoke. 

Have you ever known someone who does not choose their words with shrewdness? I am sure you have, for I myself can name a dozen such word-misusers off the top of my head. These people (and let's keep in mind that such people may even be ourselves) are reckless with their speech. They are the ones always pointing out the negative, choosing cynicism over hope and destroying a person's heart with sarcasm, gossip and ill-mannered comments. They take the beauty out of an experience with their crude humor or inappropriately used and unrestrained "dumb words"** or cursing.

But a person who adds to an experience? Who uplifts a person? Now they are a gem to be around. They speak with kindness, excellent vocabulary and point out the good. Gossip has no place on the lips of these people for they would rather use their gift of speech to discuss the things of the heart and add warm laughter to a conversation rather then dwell on some rumor about a celebrity or neighbor. They are honest but clothe that honesty in compassion. Do not we all want this to be the description of our own speech?

Deuteronomy 32:2 says this: "let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants." This should be our desire. Our longing should be that our words are refreshing and lovely.

It is not always good to add in your two cents. In fact, I would say far more often is it better to be silent then chip in, for usually what we say has little to no thought behind it.  Usually our words are spoken and we do not realize they reap consequences. Are you unkind? You may not find yourself with so many friends. Are you sarcastic? You may find your loved ones shutting down. Are you full of gossip? Sure, you may have a bunch of listeners but people won't want to share their life, hurt and victories with you.

We must begin to transform the way we speak. Are you sarcastic, belittling someone in "jest?" Hold your tongue. Speak a truthful compliment instead. Are you cynical, endlessly pointing out the negative even though no one asked? Take a step back. Ask yourself what is better for the other person, for the situation, for the atmosphere. Ask yourself if what you are saying is beautifying and uplifting. Then reformulate your comment (or say nothing at all) according to your answers. Are you constantly talking about that girl in your class or at work? Are you calling up your friend to gab about the new person in your book club? Stop and ask if you would say those things if the subject was in the room. If you wouldn't then don't say it.

Sometimes, as your friend swoons over a big dream of hers, you feel the need to chip in a dose of realism. "You know," your begin, "you'll probably never be able to do that. It is far-fetched, would cost a lot of money and, let's be honest, do you want to devote your life to this dream?" But instead let her dream, encourage her and be there for her. If she asks for you opinion you can honestly (and graciously) voice if you have concerns but don't feel the need to play God in her life. When you are with you girlfriends and a person of nuisance begins to come up in conversation say something really nice about her, like you liked the shoes she wore the other day or you like her sense-of-humor.

Putting your speech up against the standard of Philippians 4:8 is perhaps one of the best ways to begin the process of word transformation. It reads that "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Is what you are wanting to say to someone true? Noble? Right? Pure? Lovely? Admirable? If no, re-think your words. If yes, speak on.

Transforming our speech and holding our tongue may be awkward at first, but it is worthwhile.  

How do you need to transform your speech? Should you talk less than you do? What questions should you ask yourself before you say something?

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