WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 26, 2021
TOPIC: THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK
BY T. O. BANSO
“For we all go wrong in a number of things. If a man never makes a slip in his talk, then he is a complete man and able to keep all his body in control” (James 3:2 Bible in Basic English).
The title of this message is simple. Someone’s initial reaction could be: this is commonsense! Another person could say it is normal. But daily experience shows that as simple or normal as the statement is, it does appear not everyone thinks before he speaks.
It does appear that with everyone having a mobile phone and social media accounts, people just wake up and write or record anything, video or audio, and post it. They do this either as an original message or in response to what someone has said or what is dominating discussion in the media – traditional and social media. They act spontaneously without thinking about the impact and consequences of their actions. But when others begin to react, such persons usually have to eat their words. They start apologizing.
No human being is perfect. It happens sometimes that one gets carried away and says some things that one is not supposed to say. However, this is not justifiable. Such bad communication could be as a result of wrong use of words, inaccurate information, or exaggeration. One could call it a slip of tongue. Either because of people’s condemnatory reaction or on personal reflection, one regrets what one has said and apologizes.
However, it is not good to have a reputation for always saying wrong things and be regretting them later. Unfortunately, this appears to be a common thing these days. People, including pastors, say some things that one wonders why on earth someone would say such a thing. One could even dismiss it initially with a wave of the hand that they didn’t say it. But soon one gets to read them expressing regret for saying what they said.
The regret does not relate to written communication alone but also audio and video recordings. Sometimes, in expressing regret, those concerned might claim the communication materials were doctored or edited, thus distorting the original context.
The public, most times, is not convinced by claims of misquotation out of context or unfair editing of the communication in question. Because some people could not disclaim the controversial posts they made on social media, which had generated a backlash from the public, they had to apologize.
While it is true that some people could be mischievous and deliberately misquote or distort others’ statements for ulterior motives, my focus really is on bad communication by people, including pastors. Some of the bad communications people engage in could be avoided if they understand that words are powerful and they have no control over their words, written or spoken, once they have communicated them.
Any word you have communicated is no longer your property; it’s no longer under your control. Apologies do not delete from the public domain or people’s memories the message you have communicated. This is why you have to be careful.
I believe that many times, some communicators who are guilty of habitually coming out to express regret over statements they make, which are in the public domain, fail to think thoroughly before they speak or release to the public what they have written. Therefore, think before you speak to the public or write for public consumption. “There is more hope for a fool than for someone who speaks without thinking” (Proverbs 29:20 New Living Translation).
James 3:2 says, “For we all go wrong in a number of things. If a man never makes a slip in his talk, then he is a complete man and able to keep all his body in control” (Bible in Basic English). Christian maturity is not in your preaching ability or gift of prophecy and so on but in the ability to control your tongue. The ability to control your tongue is a mark of spiritual maturity.
Self-control is very important in communication. You could feel like saying something but you avoid saying it because it’s not right. This is self-control. Proverbs 16:32 says, “It is better to be patient than powerful; it is better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (New Living Translation). The Bible also says, “A person without self-control is as defenseless as a city with broken-down walls” (Proverbs 25:28 New Living Translation).
You must not allow your emotions, especially anger, to get the better of you in communication. Don’t say it the way you feel it when you’re angry! A fool vents all his feelings, but a wise man holds them back (Proverbs 29:11). Proverbs 14:29 says, “Those who control their anger have great understanding; those with a hasty temper will make mistakes” (New Living Translation).
Don’t speak when you’re angry or you’ll be apologizing later for what you’ve said. That’s not suppressing your emotion; it’s controlling it. Don’t let anger pollute your anointing! The Lord Jesus says, “If you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matthew 5:22 New Living Translation). Don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you (Ephesians 4:26).
Be wise in your communication. Don’t put the cart before the horse by thinking only after your communication has caused you others some trouble. Always weigh your words. Consider the likely consequences of your words. Choose your words wisely and carefully. Avoid ambiguity and, if it’s deliberate, understand that there will be consequences and prepare for them. Think before you speak or post whatever you’ve written or recorded, not after.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction” (New King James Version). The apostle Peter says, “If you want a happy life and good days, keep your tongue from speaking evil, and keep your lips from telling lies” (1 Peter 3:10 New Living Translation).
Don’t be too quick to react to or comment on a news item or trending information without first verifying the truth and properly articulating your comments, if you must comment. It’s not every news item, particularly on social media, that is true. Delay your reaction. Avoid the zeal to be the first to comment or be heard. You may regret it later when you discover you were hasty in your reaction. The apostle James says we should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19).
If you’re pastor, stay in your calling; don’t turn yourself to a social commentator or someone who comments on everything that happens in society, including sports, entertainment, and politics. Beware of the love for media attention or glare of publicity. Don’t compete with celebrities for media attention!
When you preach, stay with your message. Avoid comments that do not add value to the message. In the fundamentals of communication, that would be called noise – anything that interferes with the communication process and influences the interpretation of the message. Noise could be semantic, physical, psychological, or physiological.
When you engage in public speaking, including preaching, don’t let the applause of your audience or their positive reception or feedback take you off course by making statements you didn’t intend to make. It would become a disservice to you and your message. You would regret the statements later.
To avoid regretting what you have said, if it involves writing or a recorded message, don’t post it or send it out immediately. Go through it again and if possible, let, at least, one person help you to look at it and tell you his/her opinion. The person could make input – addition or subtraction. There’s nothing to worry about. It is still your piece of communication.
It is better for one person to correct you before you go public than for the public to condemn you. Re-write often improves a written communication; it can improve the content of your recorded message, too.
Thinking before you speak is also important in interpersonal communication. When you’re communicating, don’t forget you’re a Christian. Therefore, be motivated by love. Love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:10). In this regard, let your tongue promote good, not evil. “There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health” (Proverbs 12:18 New King James Version). The apostle Paul says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 New King James Version).
Think before you speak.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, I repent of every wrong word I have spoken or written, including the ones people are not aware of. Forgive me, Lord. Holy Spirit, help me to control myself in the use of my tongue and my hand as I write. Help me to speak words of love, not of hate. I pray, Lord, that my speech will always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that I may know how I ought to answer each one. Father, I don’t want to think only after I have spoken. I don’t want to have a reputation for always regretting what I have said. Help me, Holy Spirit, to think before I speak or write anything for the public.
(For about 600 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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