There are times in my life when I can write and speak very diplomatically (and I love those times). And then there are the times that I open my mouth and words that I don’t really mean to say come out. Or there are times that I mean what I am saying, but the words that I choose, or the manner in which I say them comes out all wrong. I realize that those situations usually happen when I don’t really stop to think before I open my mouth. Ponder this for a moment – just how many times do you open your mouth and say something before you stop and think about the words that you are choosing to say? If you are like me, it’s a majority of the time. That means that pretty much most of my awake hours in a day are spent not really thinking about what is coming out of my mouth before the words spill out. Considering how often I speak, that’s an enormous amount of words and phrases that have the potential to cause significant harm to others. James recognized that what we say can cause harm: “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8, ESV) Proverbs 15:4 reminds us “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” (ESV)
I’ve heard the saying (author unknown) “Say what you mean and mean what you say,” before. But just today I saw a meme that said “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But, don’t say it mean.” Wow! Simple, yet profound. Jesus also said something along the same lines in Matthew 5:37 when he said “But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one,” (NKJV)
And then there’s an acrostic that I ran across for the word THINK. It’s a tool to use to analyze what you may say. Before you speak, think about what you are saying, and ask yourself the following questions:
T = Is it True?
H = Is it Helpful?
I = Is it Inspiring?
N = Is it Necessary?
K = Is it Kind?
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, then perhaps the thought in your head should not come out of your mouth.
I would do well to remember to say what I mean, mean what I say, and not say it mean; and also the acrostic THINK. Do I want to do it? Yes. Will I put it into practice? Truthfully, I have to admit that I probably won’t. That’s because realistically, it’s not always possible to run these things through your mind when you are in conversation, or crisis mode. But, I sure can try. And, I will continue the practice of apologizing to others when my words come out incorrectly, or if my words wounds them.
Now if you excuse me I have some THINKing to do!