Taming my tongue is definitely an area that has needed a lot of work, specifically in the way that I say what needs to be said. How those words sound to others and how I intend for them to come out can be two completely different viewpoints. Many times I have found myself offending someone without ever realizing why or how. When my children were younger they would often ask me why I was mad when I wasn’t mad at all- I just sounded it. (I used to get mad when they accused me of being mad when I wasn’t mad!) Making people afraid of the sound of your voice can be a great method to use when you want to control others, but that strategy may backfire and you may find you are left alone, talking to yourself. The Lord has given me an understanding that people do not need to hear the irritation in my voice when I speak. (Oh, okay, sometimes our kids do need to hear the irritation in our voice, to know we are serious!) But when we are out in public? Do people really need to know how annoyed we are at them, especially strangers? I know that I am not the only one who has seen some pretty impressive temper tantrums from strangers in public.
Over the past few days I have meditated on Colossians 4:6. In my spirit I just mulled over the words “seasoned with salt.” The verse says this: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (NKJV). In the New Century Version it is put this way; “When you talk, you should always be kind and pleasant so you will be able to answer everyone in the way you should.” Now, Paul is talking about sharing the gospel message, but I believe that when we speak our speech should be kind and pleasant to everyone. It doesn't matter how irritated we might be, or how wronged we may feel, or how justified we believe we are.
Looking back I can see that I reasoned that I could speak to my husband and children in a much more relaxed way than I often spoke to others. I have received a great deal of correction from the Lord in this area. I do not need to make anyone feel badly or small when I speak, especially my family. I am to respect my husband and how I speak to him shows my level of respect for him, as well as others. There have even been a few times that I was able to hear the “truth spoken in love.” We are to always to speak the truth in love according to Ephesians 4:15, but we must remember that scripture is not giving us a license to say what we want, when we want, how we want- and then call it love when we destroy with our words.
Years ago, I was impressed to pray and ask the Lord to help me hear how I sounded when I spoke. I also began to ask Him to help me think about how people are going to hear what I am going to say. You know, think before you speak, that sort of thing! This approach has helped me immensely. If I am rushed I tend to sound sharp when I speak, simply because I am in a hurry. Remember a soft answer turns away wrath but those harsh words just manage to stir up anger (Proverbs 15:1 NKJV). We really need to do our part to keep from stirring up the pot of anger in others. Perhaps we need to think before we speak and even ask ourselves if what we are about to say is necessary. After all, not every thought that wanders through our minds needs to be spoken, does it? The Lord reminded me that we have two ears and one mouth and that is because He intends for us to listen twice as much as we talk.
So, if you see me wandering in a store and I happen to slip up and budge in line, please offer me some grace and a smile. Sometimes I am not very observant but I am working on it. And if you find yourself encountering someone mean and rude offer them a kind word seasoned with a little salt. Make them thirsty for the Sweet Spirit of Jesus living on the inside of you! That's really what we all need anyways!