Keys to the Kingdom
Ever since I was a little girl I’ve been very fond of monkeys. (I can even imitate the sounds of a chimpanzee.) I distinctly remember sitting on my Mom’s lap and asking her, “Can I have a baby brother or sister?“ She simply replied, “No.“ Without missing a beat, I then asked, “Well, can I have a monkey?“ Without missing a beat, Mom gave me a flat-out “No.“ One of my favorite TV shows in 1976 was “B.J. and the Bear” — not because the young trucker was good looking but because his pet chimp was so adorable! When visiting the zoo once, I was standing on the other side of the bars lightheartedly watching a big chimpanzee when (to my astonishment) he threw poop right at me! What an unkind thing to do! That was my first up-close-and-personal experience of “shock and awe.“
Humans aren’t prone to throw poop, but they’re apt to throw negative words at people. We can make or break someone’s day by what we say. Of all people, believers need to get a handle on the words that come out of our mouth. It’s pretty safe to say that Christians aren’t tempted to rob the bank, steal a car, run off with the neighbor’s spouse, or cheat on their income taxes. But often times we’re tempted to say surly words.
The Book of Proverbs provides ample instructions on the right (God-fearing) way to talk. “Self-control means controlling the tongue. A quick retort can ruin everything. The words of the wise soothe and heal” (Proverbs 12:16,18 TLB). We have the ability to encourage (build up) or discourage (tear down) someone. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words cause quarrels. Gentle words cause life and health; griping brings discouragement” (Proverbs 15:1,4 TLB). The question to ask ourselves is, “What does this person need to hear today?” Rather than “What do I want to get off my chest?”
It’s wise to ask God to lead your conversation when you’re going to meet someone for lunch or coffee, business, etc. God cares about the words you speak, not just your actions. God also cares and hears how you talk to your family when you’re home alone with them. “How wonderful it is to be able to say the right thing at the right time. The Lord delights in kind words. A good man thinks before he speaks” (Proverbs 15:23,26,28 TLB).
I’ve heard it said that since there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, we should read one every day of the month. It sure wouldn’t hurt us to have a daily reminder on how to manage our mouths. “Kind words are like honey — enjoyable and healthful. Gossip separates the best of friends” (Proverbs 16:24,28 TLB). “The man of few words and settled mind is wise; therefore even a fool is thought to be wise when he is silent. It pays to keep his mouth shut” (Proverbs 17:27,28 TLB). “Keep your mouth closed and you’ll stay out of trouble” (Proverbs 21:23 TLB).
My sweet mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything good, then don’t say anything at all.” I’m hopeful that the older I get the more like my Mom I’ll become. Underlined in my late husband’s Bible is this verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14 NLT).
The Key: Throw kind and positive words at somebody and make their day.