I leaned toward my coworker, eager to add my two cents.
“Oh, I know, right? It’s been so much better since she left. Not to be mean or anything, but she just didn’t belong here.”
Even as I said those words I felt a twist of guilt. I wasn’t really gossiping, was I? I said “not to be mean,” so that made it ok.
Later in the day, I found myself having this conversation:
“It’s just so hard. I don’t know what they were thinking. I’m not trying to complain or anything. I’m just saying.”
And then there was this one:
“He doesn’t have a clue, does he? Bless his heart.”
Each of these scenarios depicts a woman (namely me) trying to justify her unkind comments, complaints, and criticisms. Sadly, I hear these phrases coming out of my mouth far more often than I would like.
And I’m certainly not alone. These are common conversations, even in Christian circles. Women are adept at softening their speech with little phrases like “I’m just kidding” or “I don’t mean to complain.” In our minds, at least, it takes the sting away and helps us justify our words.
I’m not usually kidding.
I’m not “just saying.” I’m complaining.
And I am trying to be mean.
What about you?
Women of Many (Unkind) Words
I will be the first one to admit I often let my mouth run freely. Ugly words flow out with embarrassing frequency. In my head, I might even be thinking, “Why am I talking? Just be quiet.” But the words kept coming- Complaining, sarcastic, hurtful, unhelpful, and just plain abundant. According to Luke 6, our mouths speak what is in our hearts. Many times, my words reflected a heart that was jealous, petty, and resentful.
I realized this was a problem in my life. Over the past year, God brought my sharp tongue to my attention and showed me the need for change in this area. After all, few things will turn people against Christians faster than unkind or hypocritical responses.
My words, and the spirit they reflected, were in desperate need of a make-over.
God never reveals a life problem and then steps back to let us struggle alone. He guides us from His Word and the Holy Spirit. If I truly wanted to make changes, then the Bible was the place to start.
What Does the Bible Say About Women and Their Words?
The book of Proverbs is full of verses about our speech, often in connection with wisdom or foolishness. Proverbs 18:21 even goes so far as to say that “death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Whoa. That is a strong statement.
God clearly thinks our words are a big deal. They reveal A LOT about us. What does He say about women who speak foolishly and bring “death” with their tongues?
- The mouths of fools spout folly (Proverbs 15:1)
- The one who opens wide her mouth comes to ruin (Proverbs 13:3)
- A fool’s lips bring strife (Proverbs 18:6)
- A godless person destroys his neighbor with his mouth (Proverbs 11:9)
- Their tongues are as poisonous as vipers (Psalm 140:3)
These are sobering thoughts. As children, we chant, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We’re trying to give the idea that words aren’t a big deal, that the unkind words bounce right off us.
When I read passages like the ones above, it makes me realize how seriously God views my speech. Words do hurt. They tear, wound, and define people for years to come. Excess words make us seem ungrateful, thoughtless, and unthinking.
The verses above are just a few among many. The Bible is full of warnings regarding the careless use of words, with good reason. The damage we can do with our words is unfathomable.
Ask yourself- how freely do you fling words around? Do they show what’s in your heart?
Wouldn’t you rather be a woman whose words bring life?
There is hope! Remember, God never requires us to walk alone. He is the One who helps, heals, and makes up for our shortcomings. Through Him, we can become women of wise words.
In contrast to the foolish woman, a wise woman…
- Restrains her lips and is considered wise (Proverbs 10:19).
- Guards her mouth and preserves her life (Proverbs 13:3)
- Is delivered by her mouth (Proverbs 12:6)
- Has a mouth that is choice silver and a fountain of righteousness (Proverbs 10:11, 20)
- Knows when to stay silent (Proverbs 11:12)
I want to be that woman! But, wise words are also a lot harder to produce. One of the major reasons our words flow so freely is because it’s easy to talk. It takes no effort to be the foolish woman, blurting out anything and everything that comes into our heads.
I think the key to being a wise woman is found in Proverbs 11:12- “A person with understanding keeps silent.”
Silence indicates humility. The woman who stays quiet demonstrates a willingness to listen to God’s words rather than her own. She’s following His leading. Then, since she’s used to listening to God, she’s able to listen well to others.
She hears far more than she speaks.
As the Bible paints a picture of the wise woman, it shows us someone who uses words of kindness, compassion, and even beauty. But she also knows when to keep her thoughts to herself. It’s so difficult to become this kind of woman on our own. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is there to help us. We don’t have to force our own self-improvement. Instead, we can pray, “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Our words are so important. Do yours bring life or death to others?
I’m trying to memorize verses about my speech and I’m working on being more careful with what I say. It’s not easy, but with God’s help, I pray that I will become a woman of wise words.
What about you?
She opens her mouth with wisdom; the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
Carly Spence is a kindergarten teacher, fun aunt, and a career single. She is passionate about her message- That being single is a gift from God and meant to be celebrated! You can read more about her message on her blog- www.everysingleblessing.com.