Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
I notice that this doesn’t say “don’t have unwholesome thoughts”. It only says not to let them escape your lips. I need to be more deliberate about my self-censoring.
There is this (huge) part of me that wants to participate in the conversation so badly that I tend to say the first witty (or banal) thing that comes to mind in an effort to take part, to interact. But what I need to do is to take time to really think about everything that I want to say and make sure I really understand who it might hurt and all the implications.
Here’s the catch though: I can’t put my friends and co-workers on pause while I contemplate, so very often I may end up being left out of the flow of a conversation because I didn’t “keep up” as it were. I have to learn to be “okay” with this.
Guess what: the surest way to make certain your opinion is valued by others is to be quiet. Not just to speak quietly, but to have a quiet, contemplative spirit so that when I do open my lips people know that it’s not just the first thought that came rushing through my brain, but that I’ve given it time to percolate and become something of value. And that I took the time to listen to them first.
Ever been in a conversation with someone and you KNOW they aren’t hearing a word you are saying ? They are standing there with words almost visibly aching to fly off their lips. They can hardly stand still due to the itch to make their next statement. Too often I am that person. But I don’t want to be that person, do you?
LORD, guide my lips. Instruct my tongue as you promised in Isaiah so that I can lift up the weary. Give me a quiet spirit. Help me learn to find joy in listening.