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Today’s Truth

Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right response for everyone (Colossians 4:6, NLT).

Friend to Friend

If you are like me, there have been times when I wanted to reach into the air and capture the toxic words I had just spoken. Been there?

Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors. I recently read an article that said the famed children’s author loved challenges. In 1959, the co-founder of his publishing company bet Dr. Seuss that he could not write an actual book with a good story using fifty words or less. Dr. Seuss quickly accepted the bet. The result? The beloved book, “Green Eggs and Ham.” To date it has sold over 200 million copies – using only 49 words in its entirety. Dr. Seuss might be on to something.

Less is often more. When it comes to words with impact, being long-winded is not a value. But speaking the right words can be life changing.

The spoken word is powerful and spoken words of encouragement can bring great comfort. The idea is not to speak many words, but to speak the right words. Consider this:

  • The Lord’s Prayer contains 71 words.
  • The Gettysburg Address contains 272 words.
  • The Ten Commandments contains 139 words.
  • The Declaration of Independence contains 1323 words.
  • A U.S. government order setting the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words.

Written notes of encouragement often carry even greater impact because they can be kept and read again and again.

In the midst of my struggle with depression, I would often slip into a worship service at our church through a side door to escape being noticed. I came in late to worship one day and sat off to the side in order to avoid questioning eyes and concerned stares. My timing was bad because I had managed to get there just in time to welcome the visitors. I simply had no energy or desire to shake hands or smile at anyone, so I sat in my chair hoping everyone would understand and leave me alone.

Then I saw him coming. One of our deacons had spotted me and was walking across the auditorium with a big smile on his face. I wanted to run. He put his arm around my shoulder and gently hugged me. He never said a word but pressed a piece of paper into my hand and left as quickly as he had come. Through tears I read the precious note that said, “I love you and am praying for you. If you or Dan ever need me for anything, I am here.” That man’s gracious and effective words brought healing comfort to my wounded heart. I found the strength to stay. His response to my pain was certainly the right response.

Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right response for everyone (Colossians 4:6, NLT).

It’s not how long we talk or how many eloquent words we use that matters. It is what we say that is so important. The words we use are like seeds. What we plant will grow.

I believe God gives us spiritual “radar’ so we can assess a situation and speak the right word for that circumstance. We just need to check the “radar screen” before we speak.

Solomon offers great wisdom concerning the use of words, “Whoever controls his mouth protects his own life. Whoever has a big mouth comes to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3, GWT). If we do not learn to use and control our tongue, it will use and control us!

God will take and use the words we use to bring hope and give comfort to those who are longing for a word of truth. The right word – given at the right time and in the right way – can bring order in the midst of confusion, light on a very dark path, and wisdom to a questioning heart.

Let’s Pray

Father, I come today asking for Your forgiveness for the careless words I speak. Please teach me how to control my tongue. Create in me a clean heart. Give me a holy desire to encourage and build others up with my words.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read Colossians 4:6. “Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.”

How would you describe words that are “gracious?”

How can our words be “effective” in the lives of others?

More from the Girlfriends

Learning to control anger can help us control many of the careless words we speak. Need help? Get Mary’s powerful book, You Make Me So Angry! for a seven-step plan that will help you learn to control anger and the destructive words that anger can produce.

Be sure to check out the FREE MP3s on Mary’s website at www.marysoutherland.com and connect with Mary through email or on Facebook.

© 2021 by Mary Southerland. All rights reserved.

2 Responses to “Oops! I Said it Again!”

  1. Dennia says:

    Mary, as I was reading this I couldn’t help but think of the master of simple yet powerful words: the Master we strive to follow—our Lord, Jesus. Just think of his parables. They aren’t long. They aren’t complicated. They are easy to understand by everyone—brief and to the point. Yet their power to enlighten, guide, and refresh us are always there awaiting us every time we read or hear them again.

  2. Janis says:

    I thank you for your words today. I wanted to give something up for lent, couldn’t think of anything that would make me struggle a little. I am giving up taking without really thinking before I say something. I pray it will be a new behavior and my words would bless people. May God bless you for your faithfulness.

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