Speaking the Right Word at the Right Time

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)

The wisest, most mature, and most effective people are those who capture a moment by saying the right thing in the right way. Quite often, their statements seem to come from out of the blue because the tone of voice and the actual words speak a very different message from what most people expect. Instead of returning anger for anger and backing people into a corner, they calmly speak truth and give options. Instead of being annoyed by a boring person and walking away, they engage in deeper conversation. Instead of using a person’s fears to control him or her, they soothe fear by speaking words of hope.

Researchers tell us that communication is largely nonverbal. Only 7 percent of the impact is in actual words. Facial expressions, gestures, and the tone of voice make up the rest. Words can be “fitly spoken” only if we say them with authenticity, really meaning what we say, and letting our faces, hands, and tone of voice carry the message too.

Messages have incredible power. They can build or destroy, instill hope or take it away. Think about the people you will see today. Some of them are hurting, some are angry, and some have lost hope. What would it mean for you to communicate powerful, life-giving messages of faith, hope, and love to those people?

Speak Less, Hear More

imageHe who restrains his lips is wise. —Proverbs 10:19

Years ago an anonymous writer penned a short poem about the merits of measuring our words.

A wise old owl sat in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why can’t we all be like that wise old bird?

There is a connection between wisdom and limiting what we say. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”

We are wise to be careful about what we say or how much we say in certain situations. It makes sense to guard our words when we are angry. James urged his fellow believers, “Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Restraining our words can also show reverence for God. Solomon said, “God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few” (Eccl. 5:2). When others are grieving, our silent presence may help more than abundant expressions of sympathy: “No one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13).

Although there is a time to be quiet and a time to speak (Eccl. 3:7), choosing to speak less allows us to hear more.

Let your speech be better than silence; otherwise be silent.