The Words We Don’t Say

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The Words We Don’t Say

The words we don’t say are often more impactful than the words we do say. As a part of our #WordsMatter focus, I wrote about attitudes and how they affect relationships. Today, I’ll be looking at our actions. First, let’s dive into times when we need to keep our mouth shut.

The words we shouldn’t say

Have you ever started to say something only to feel that tingle in your gut telling you not to? Tingle isn’t a sufficient word, but in my human frailty I’m not sure how else to describe what is happening: the Holy Spirit is telling you “no, don’t.” He’s giving us a heads up that what we’re about to do can have significant repercussions. Words are powerful: James puts it this way

And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. — James 3:6

Personally, the morning I sat down to write this I had to listen to the Spirit. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that an opportunity to voice my opinion on a hot-button topic presented itself. Some friends had shared an image on Facebook to make a point. While their point was valid, their data was flawed and I had the info to prove it.

I wrote a well-crafted reply, read what I wrote, and just felt a general sense of “no, don’t say that.” I closed my browser window and moved on. I don’t want to think about the damage that could have happened had I followed through with my intended action.

Speaking is an action

I could list verse after verse from the Bible that encourages us to be quiet. As I studied scripture to prepare for the task of writing this blog, it became evident that the Bible wants us to practice self-control. Anytime we open our mouth we need to run it through the filter of Ephesians 4:29:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Was posting my reply on Facebook going to give any encouragement to my friends? No. Keeping my mouth shut was the most gracious and Christ-like thing I could do at that moment.

The words we don’t say

However, there are times when keeping our mouth shut is detrimental to relationships. Many times my wife and I are out driving. She’ll be talking away and expecting a verbal answer. Instead, I’ll simply nod my head. This is especially hilarious when it’s nighttime and she can’t see me nodding along in 125% perfect agreement (I love you hon!!!).

While my example is a purposefully a humorous one, there have been times I’ve chosen to not say anything when I actually should have. After all, the Biblical response is to be a peacemaker and I personally don’t like to cause conflict. If I just take it on the chin, I’m being a good Christian — right?

I’m not so sure. Relationships are complex and when we really need to let another person know how we feel, Proverbs 12:25 has some great wisdom:

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

Mind you, I’m not talking about opinions as much as I am referring to hurt. I just led a Bible study session on forgiveness. Jesus’ words from the cross in Luke 23:34 is a prime example of this:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.
Don’t let what happened in the past wear you down today. Work it out, forgive each other, and move on.

Not speaking is also an action

When something has bothered us so deeply that it’s creating anxiety, I think we do need to address the problem. We need to forgive, yes, but we also need to address the wrong. Simply letting it bottle up inside leads to resentment, mistrust, and as Proverbs said, anxiety. Keeping our hurt inside is still an action and a very unhealthy one at that.

#WordsMatter

The decision to take the month of February to focus on our words was intentional: we all at times need to look at how we impact those around us. From the name of Jesus to the power of I do, everything so far has been to encourage you to be a blessing to each other.

If there is one thing I want to leave you with this month, it’s that communication is critically important. What we say or don’t say can have lasting ramifications on our personal relationships. Let God be your voice: pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit on how to respond or not to respond. Seek His wisdom and as I often say, let’s move forward in victory together.

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