I was often told growing up that, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” This statement seems to suggest that people cannot hurt you with the negative things they say or write about you. Yet, the truth of the matter is emotional pain can be much more difficult to heal than physical pain. In fact, some people never get over the emotional scars left from hurtful speech. So today, I want to share three questions to consider before you speak or type.
- Is what you’re about to say true? I have found out over the years that there is a big difference between fact and opinion. The difference between fact and opinion is that fact is something that cannot be combatted, it is verifiable truth. But, a person’s opinion is based solely on their perspective, life experience, and personal preferences. So before you share an unsolicited opinion with someone, please remember that their experience and personal preference may be totally different from yours. It is much safer and more palatable to simply stick to the facts. This is why the Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:15 “…speaking the truth in love…” Before you speak or type, please remember there is a distinct difference between fact and opinion.
- Is what you’re about to say kind? As Christians, we should never want to be perceived as mean spirited. I don’t believe that Christian speech should ever come across as being inconsiderate or rude. The Bible encourages us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” As I have often heard it said, “It’s just nice to be nice.” Kindness makes people want to be around us. So before you speak or type ask yourself, “Is what I’m about to say kind?”
- Is what you’re about to say necessary? It may be true that a person’s outfit is less than flattering. But is it necessary for you to broadcast it to the whole world? Sometimes, we just talk or type too much. The Bible warns us about being overly talkative. Proverbs 21:23 states, “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Resisting the urge to say everything that comes to mind is a good indication of wisdom and maturity. Always remember, choosing your words carefully can keep you from unnecessary troubles.
It is so tempting to ignore these questions, when we are interacting and communicating with one another. But wisdom says, before you speak or type; think about the power and the lasting effect of your words. I want to leave you today with the words of Jesus found in Matthew 12:36, “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”