Think Before You Speak
‘Think before you speak.’ I have been saying this to myself a great deal lately. Not because I have been saying anything that is necessarily bad or wrong; I’ve just been talking too much and sometimes focused on the wrong thing. The Holy Spirit of God has been dealing with me about this.
I have found myself saying things to:
- Be witty; although I had the opportunity to share Godly wisdom
- Get people laughing; when I should have been shining as a light for God’s glory
- Entertain; rather than engaging the hearts and minds of others with the Good News of Jesus Christ
I have always used humor as a way to break down barriers and facilitate discussion. And to some degree, this has been effective and useful. Yet even as I grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I have found myself doing this more and more in social settings, at work, and even at church.
When my words and/or attempts at humor become excessive, I am bringing attention to myself rather than pointing others to the Lord. The Bible has a lot to say about talking too much. Here are few examples:
- Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.
- When you talk too much, pride, self-centeredness, ego, bragging, etc. are often at the center or your words. Withholding your words can be a sign of wisdom.
- Ecclesiastes 5:3 For a dream comes through much activity, And a fool’s voice is known by his many words.
- Achieving a goal takes hard work; but some would rather talk than work.
- Matthew 6:7 And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
- Even with God it is possible to talk before you think: prayers where you uselessly and/or endlessly repeat the same thing over and over without conviction or meaning; trying to make a ‘deal’ with God; hastily making a vow/commitment to God; praying for something that is inappropriate…
- Also see Proverbs 15:2, Psalm 37:30, James 1:19, James 1:26, and many other verses.
The Bible also provides examples of when the wrong focus caused someone to speak before they carefully considered what they were saying.
What was Peter focused on when Jesus spoke of His upcoming death and resurrection?
- Matthew 16:22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
- Peter had just proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:13-16).
- Could he have been more focused on his expectations of Jesus rather than what Jesus was saying to him.
- Jesus’ response reveals the danger of not stopping to think before you speak – Peter received a very sharp rebuke from Jesus.
- Matthew 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
What was Jephthah focused on when he rashly made a vow to God?
- Judges 11:30-31 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, 31 then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”
- Although years earlier Jephthah had been driven away by the elders of his people, now he was being promised the position of leadership over all the people of Gilead if he could lead them to victory in war (Judges 11:1-10).
- Could Jephthah have been more focused on his possible rise to power rather than honoring God in the battle to save the Gileadites?
- Because he spoke his vow without stopping to think, although he won the battle, Jephthah lost his only child.
- Judges 11:34-35 When Jephthah came to his house at Mizpah, there was his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing; and she was his only child. Besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he tore his clothes, and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low! You are among those who trouble me! For I have given my word to the Lord, and I cannot go back on it.”
Being overly focused on humor is just one of many possible contributors to not thinking before you speak. Are you prone to any of the following?
- Trying to sound smart?
- Wanting to come across as tough/indifferent?
- Focused more on making a point rather than listening?
- Trying to sound ‘religious’?
- Attempting to make yourself look good by criticizing others?
- Other items not listed here?
What could these or similar tendencies indicate about who and what you are focused on? Whoever you are talking to, Think Before You Speak!
- Ecclesiastes 5:2 Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few.
- Proverbs 21:23 Whoever guards his mouth and tongue Keeps his soul from troubles.
- Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
- Matthew 12:36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
There is an appropriate time to every purpose under heaven. Let your words reflect a clear understanding of this truth.
- Ecclesiastes 3:4-5
- A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
Father, I confess that I am sometimes focused on the wrong thing and that I often talk before I think. Please Father, help me yield to the convicting work of Your Holy Spirit in my life. I long to bring honor to You. Whether it is a time for laughing or a time for crying, a time to be serious or a time to relax, help me and all who have surrendered to Jesus honor you with all we say and do. And please Lord, draw many to You for salvation in Jesus Christ. I pray all this in His precious name, Amen.