When I was 8 years old, I overheard my Aunt Delores describing my sister and I to a friend. Speaking of my sister, she said, “Janie’s sweet and quiet and you hardly hear a peep out of her.” And then she pointed in my direction and said, “But that one right there; she can talk a mile a minute!”
Looking back on that I probably should have been offended. I wasn’t. Instead, I was wildly impressed. Seriously? A mile a minute? For a kid who didn’t have an athletic bone in her body, the fact that I could go a mile in a minute, in anything, was the best news ever! And so, my track record began.
In Jr. High, my teacher changed the seating order twice, in hopes that moving me by kids I didn’t know as well, would quiet me. It didn’t take long for those kids to become my best buds! Some call it talkative. I call it as just being friendly!
As I grew into adulthood and learned that sideways glances and eye rolling aren’t a good thing, I started to tame the motor mouth, patiently waiting my turn to speak. And speak I did…but were my words always measured and meaningful or was I just spewing them out to get in my word quota for the day? Ask my husband…he has this answer...I assure you!
In my ripened age now, I’ve been contemplative on my words and their impact on others. Proverbs tells us that “the overflow of the heart comes off the tongue.” I’ve observed this in many ways in my life. We all have. Just turn on the T.V. Can you think of anyone who lost a position or a relationship because of words that came too quickly? Lying words. Angry words. Bitter words. Manipulative words. Insert hand raised emoji here. And then insert a big arrow pointing to me.
My mama used to say two things to me, growing up, that went hand in hand. 1.) If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. 2.) You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. Good advice. I remember it, and on rare occasions, I apply it.
Today, I saw a meme that said: Knowledge is knowing what to say. Wisdom is knowing whether to say it or not. This quote goes along with scripture that pretty much knocked the socks off me this week, in my study of 1 Peter.
1 Peter 2:23 – (speaking of Jesus) When they hurled insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
And to drive this point home just a little (or twist the knife a little deeper into my convicted heart) here’s verse 24:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
No one suffered more unjustly than Jesus. He took my sin to the cross that day. (he took yours too…FYI). If anyone was worthy of retaliation, it was Him. He was in every essence God – he was perfectly capable of saving himself. He chose not to. He could have lashed out at those that were saying such wrong and hateful things. He chose not to. He could have retaliated. He chose not to. He could have come up with some amazing threats – after all – he was God and held their eternity in his hands. He chose not to. Instead, he entrusted himself to a loving Father who judges fairly.
Jesus set the ultimate example of holding your tongue.
My husband recently shared a devotion with me. He claimed it meant a lot to him, but I think it was actually one of those moments where you show someone something under the guise that it was good for me, but the ulterior motive is…you really need this lady! You know what I mean? Well, it was good for me. He’s always right, that husband of mine.
The devotion talked about “Witnessing your thoughts”. In other words, taking the time to step aside of your thoughts and think about what they will sound like once they exit your brain and come off your tongue. Will they be helpful or harmful? Am I wanting to say this out of anger, retaliation, defense? Be a witness, first, to how those things you want to say will be received? Take the situation, the person you're speaking to and your emotions into account. Are these thoughts honey or vinegar? I know you’re thinking, “Well geez, by the time I do all that, the person is gone, or I’ve missed my opportunity to let them know what I’m thinking.” Well, then, point taken. Sometimes, things are better left unsaid. Silence often speaks louder than any words we can conjure up in the moment. However, taking the time to process doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t speak them. But, taking the time to witness our thoughts gives us the time to speak them in the way that they are intended, which should always be; to build each other up.
Jesus held his tongue at a time when, by any human standard, it would have been acceptable to speak. He did not have to speak into his circumstances. He left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly. And that, should be our goal, in any situation. How does God judge this? And then, allow him to handle it. If he wants you to speak into it, trust him to give you the wisdom of when and how to do so. How he judges me, in any situation, should be all I really care about. Jesus left it up to God to be the judge…and so should I. It’s easier said than done, I know. I’ll most likely stumble along the way…but I want to witness my thoughts and allow God to handle my situation fairly.
Jesus set the example on the cross for me – by his wounds I am set free!