“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”.
(Philippians 4:8 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Have you ever been to a rodeo and watched a lassoing contest? The little calf bursts from the stall, and then the cowboy and his steed follow in close pursuit. With his lasso in hand, the cowboy swings the rope in the air and attempts to catch the little heifer before she escapes out the corral door at the opposite side of the arena. That is a vivid picture of what we need do with the words that attempt to escape the gate (the mouth). We need to lasso them with the word of truth and rein them in. Throw them down in the dirt and tie them up if necessary.
The Bible teaches us to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Once we lasso a thought (take it captive), we can decide which words leave the gate and which words need to be tied up and secured.
Various studies show that we speak at about 120 to 160 words a minute. That’s a lot of little heifers to rope in, but I believe we can do it! Let’s take a look at how to reign in our words. First, a thought bursts from the stall called the brain. It runs across the mind headed for the door called the mouth. In a split second we must determine if that thought is true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind. You can remember that with the acronym T.H.I.N.K.
If we determine that the words don’t fit that description, then we lasso them with the rope of kindness and never let them out of the gate. If they do line up true, helpful, inspiring, necessary and kind, we let them go free.
Toxic thoughts produce toxic talk. Think about what you’re thinking about. If you’re stewing on toxic thoughts in your head, then you’ll be spewing toxic words from your mouth.
Paul gives us a way to detoxify our thoughts by filtering them through the sieve of the truth that is very similar to T.H.I.N.K. He wrote:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you,” (Philippians 4:8,9)
Much like the acronym T.H.I.N.K., we should consider this about our words:
Are they true? Are these words reliable, certain, in accordance with fact, exact, and accurate? Do they line up with God’s truth? For example, when we speak negatively about someone, we should consider: Do these words fit with God’s view of this person as His image bearer?
Are they noble? Because I am a child of the King, my words should reflect nobility. Is what I am about to say demonstrating high moral character or ideals? Is it language that exhibits excellent qualities or a person with royal rank?
Are they right? Are these words virtuous, in accordance with fact and not assumption? Are they appropriate, suitable, and reputable? Right words at the wrong time become wrong words. Is this the right time, or do I need to wait for a more appropriate time?
Are they pure? Are these words free from anything that taints, or infects the reputation of another? Are these words tainted by my own sin, or do they reflect the righteousness of Christ that has been given to me?
Are they lovely? Do these words inspire love, affection, or admiration? Are they morally or spiritually attractive or gracious? Do these words conjure up a picture of beauty or loveliness?
Are they admirable? Do these words inspire others to see excellent qualities in another person? Do the words paint a picture of praise or excellence?
Are they excellent? Do these words reflect goodness, exceptional merit, or virtue? Are they of a high moral nature? Would God rank them as “excellent” if they were spoken?
Are they praiseworthy? Do these words stir a sense of praise or condemnation?
Now that is a lot to think about, considering that the mind thinks about 130-160 words per minute. It is unlikely that we will have the time or the wherewithal to filter every word through this eight-layer sieve. However, Paul doesn’t just leave us with the qualifying list; he gives us the means by which to implement it. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.”
It takes practice! Practice! Practice! Practice! But look at the result: “And the God of peace will be with you.”
Lord, sometimes I can’t believe what comes out of my mouth! Help me to think before I speak. I pray that my words will speak life to those around me and not death. Give me the wisdom and self-control to speak words that are only true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, and kind.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
How does filtering your words through Paul’s eight-layer sieve bring about God’s peace?
How does speaking without thinking bring about discord?
Consider putting THINK on several sticky notes and place them where you see them often.
More from the Girlfriends
Sharon’s re-released and updated version of her best-selling book and Bible study guide, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others are hot off the press. They include new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Perfect for your women’s ministry’s next Bible study!
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit