3 Things You Should Think About Before You Speak

{By Austin Griesinger} Edward Bulwer-Lytton is believed to have originally penned the phrase, “The pen is Mightier than the sword” in his 1839 play Cardinal Richelieu. In it, a priest discovers a plot against his life but being unable to take up arms, he must fight his battle through the written word. Here are three things to consider before opening your mouth or picking up your pen. 3 things to think about before you speak

1. All Of Your Words have Meaning

Now this doesn’t mean that we should equip our soldiers with #2 pencils, or ballpoint pens. I’m not advocating that Paper Mate become the official arms provider of the U.S. Military. If that were the case our battles would be seriously short lived.  No, the point I want to make is that words really do have power, especially the written word. But don’t take my word for it.

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

-Robin Williams

“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”

-Yehuda Berg

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”- Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV)

2. When You Open Your Mouth, the Damage is Done

We must be aware of the words that we say and the meaning behind them. We’ve all heard the saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me” and we all know that that’s not true. Family members may say things in frustration that cut us deep. Friends can take shots at us in an effort to be funny and unintentionally hurt us. Each and every one of us have had something said that hurts and hurts deeply. The saying should go, “sticks and stones and break my bones but words can be emotionally scarring.”

Words, when spoken, can never be taken back. They can be forgiven but never erased.

We live in an age where we can hide behind our usernames and fling insults at each other, for the world to see, in 140 characters or less. With no real concern for the consequences of the things we say we can belittle the achievements of others while expecting little to no repercussions. But those words are real, and they don’t go away.

3. Being Responsible with Your Words

It’s our job to be responsible with the things we say and write. We will one day be held accountable for everything we have ever said, and the intent of our hearts (Matthew 12:36). Remember that the negative things you say about other people can bring consequences on yourself. Spreading falsehoods about someone is not just lying, it’s also thievery.

 “Stealing a person’s good name, whether through libel, slander, or gossip, is a particularly destructive form of theft, because, unlike money or property, once a person’s good name has been stolen it can almost never be fully restored.”

– Dennis Prager

Does this mean that we should never speak ill of other people? No, that’s not at all what it means. If we use Jesus as an example we can see that he talks badly of people frequently . Matthew 23 is mostly comprised of warnings to the disciples about the Pharisees and Sadducees. He calls them hypocrites and liars. He accuses them of being prideful and even compares them to a brood of vipers which was the highest accusation of deceit in that time.

So it’s not always wrong to speak negatively about people. There are situations where it has a rightful place. For example calling out dishonesty or warning others about tendencies you’ve seen in people. You have to remember that you and you alone have responsibility of your words.

Words are one of the most powerful tools that we have in life. Use them well and use them responsibly.