Words of Worth

How Much is Enough?

September 2, 2011

(Note: this entry is the fourth and last in a series about our speech and how we should guard our words. To catch up, just scroll down to read the previous blogs.)

Located near to where we live in Bucks County, is an old restored movie theater that specializes in showing independently made movies or foreign language films. It’s not the place to see the latest blockbuster but every now and then we go see a show that we might not otherwise have a chance to enjoy.

Recently Sheryl and I took the opportunity to go see “Of Gods and Men”, the true story of Trappist monks who, after being threatened by terrorists in the Algerian mountain area where they are located, must decide whether to leave or stay and continue ministering to the townspeople with whom they lived and worked peaceably. It was an incredibly emotional movie and one that was almost entirely played out in silence. Within minutes of the opening scene, I carefully slid my popcorn to the floor because the sound of my chewing could be heard for rows! Other than the beautiful French Arabic songs the monks sang and the little dialogue they shared among themselves, the men went about their daily chores in complete quiet. Even the audience reflected the hushed stillness conveyed on the screen; it seemed as though no one even shifted in their seat for the sum of two hours. After watching a movie in utter stillness and silence, returning to the noise and bustle of the world was almost startling. It made me wonder, how much of what we say is necessary?

The third gatekeeper for our lips asks the same question, “Is it necessary?” After a thought has formed in our minds and hearts and it passes the first two guards by meeting the demands of truthfulness and kindness, the final stop before it becomes a spoken word is to check for its necessity. How can we tell if what we are saying is truly necessary?

The Amplified Bible translates Ephesians 4:29 this way:

“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk ever come out of your mouth, but only such as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace to those who hear it.”

Necessary words will encourage the spiritual progress of others. If the word on the tip of your tongue is critical, demeaning, sarcastic, or insulting it will discourage or tear down the listener. Notice that any words meeting these criteria shouldn’t have slipped past the second gatekeeper. In this same verse, the Message Bible suggests each word should be a gift. If you are a visual learner like me, think of it this way, would you wrap up that comment in a beautiful box complete with ribbons and bows and give it as a gift to someone you love? If not, then maybe it is just not necessary.

Another definition of necessary is “essential” and indicates something vital for the fulfillment of a need. Words that receive the nod of approval from that final gatekeeper will fill a need. What kind of need? Consider these examples from the book of Proverbs:

“On the lips of the discerning, wisdom is found.” Proverbs 10:13
“The lips of the righteous feed many.” Proverbs 10:21
“A gentle answer turns away wrath.” Proverbs 15:1
“How delightful is a timely word!” Proverbs 15:23

Based on these examples, I would say that necessary words can bring wisdom, possibly turn away anger, and fill the one who hears them with delight. Wise words are necessary words. Are your words necessary? (CT)

Next Week: We will begin a new series on the Names of God.

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