Proverbs 17:27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
Being in a merchandise return line is quite an experience. As people make ready to defend their reason as to why they are returning their item, it’s fun to observe. Some come to the counter with a simple explanation, “I would like to return this!” They may get asked the reason for the return, but some just smile and repeat they just want to make the return. Others come with a well-rehearsed, long, detailed explanation of the very convincing reason for their return. Now there are a few that, for some reason, have made up their mind they need to use aggressive and strong words to assure their return will be accepted and receive their money back. It was this last type that caught my attention as I was in a return line.
The line was long, and a person a few people in front of me was obviously agitated. The line was not moving as fast as she would like. She muttered under her breath, yet loud enough for those around her to hear her say, “Come on! Can’t you hurry this up?” I was not sure who she was addressing, but with multiple heavy sighs, a few audible “Aaahhs!,” and some eye rolls, she made it clear she was not happy. As she approached the counter with a furrowed brow and pursed lips, she hoisted up her item and barked out, “I want to return this for a full refund, no store credit!” The young adult behind the counter looked up at her and as a smile came across his face, he gently and respectfully apologized that she was not satisfied with her purchase and began processing her return. He thanked her for her patience and even made some small talk as he asked her the reason for the return. As they interacted, her tension seemed to subside and as she left I think I actually saw a smile on her face. I thought, wow!; I just witnessed the Bible proverb that says…
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
This employee was well trained on the wisdom in watching our words. He was polite and did not answer back with the aggravation the customer was forcing on him.
Oh, it’s easy to pop off when others are flinging all kinds of intense words at us. Yet there is wisdom in being careful with our words. We are challenged in the Bible book of Proverbs to watch our words.
Proverbs 13:3 Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life: he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Proverbs 15:4 A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 21:23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.
Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent
So yes, we are to be careful with our words because they are powerful. In the Bible book of James, we are reminded that our tongue, our speech, can cause much damage (see James 3:1-12). So we are to be wise with our words, to think before we speak and to consider how those words might come across.
Proverbs 15:2 The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly.
Proverbs 12:18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.
A ‘fitly’ spoken word is a well thought out bit of knowledge, like a proverb, given at the right time. The idea here is to be careful and think before we speak. Sometimes not saying anything is the wisest move at the moment.
Proverbs 17:28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.
Yet, when we do use our words, let’s be wise. I wonder how different our interaction with others would be if we choose to be like that employee and carefully chose our words? There is wisdom in watching our words.
Church can be a great place to let our speech be seasoned with God’s good grace. If you don’t already have a church you regularly attend, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or any of our branch churches. We are in the midst of a teaching series going through the Bible book of Proverbs. Our website has all the information you would need: www.cypresschurch.net. It would be great to see you.
Seeking to be wise with my words along with you,