Choosing My Words Wisely

Choosing My Words Wisely

We’ve all done it, either in a private conversation or a larger public setting. We misspoke. We said something that we didn’t mean to say. Maybe we were surprised, or we were otherwise distracted, or maybe our emotions were already on edge, but we messed up. We hope the situation turns out to be humorous, but sometimes our words harm other people or even present in a negative light.

Let’s make this topic as broad as possible – let God’s word guide our spoken words, but also our social media messages. James 3.2 and 8: “We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say (or post) is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check … but no human being can tame the tongue …”  The specific context starts with Bible class teachers, but the larger context is extended to all our words.

In my daily Bible reading, I recently read Luke 1 and was reminded how two questions caused very different reactions from God’s angel. Luke 1.13 and 18 records this conversation between Zechariah and Gabriel. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son …”  Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man …”

Later in the same chapter, Gabriel brought another unbelievable message to earth, recorded in 1.30 and 34: “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son …”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Zechariah and Mary were both faithful followers of God. He was an older man, a priest in good standing and had been married for many years. She was a young woman, betrothed and “highly favored” by God. As Zechariah worked in the temple that day, he was surprised and frightened by Gabriel. He misspoke. He messed up. Can you imagine the look on his face when he saw Gabriel’s reaction. “Oops, I didn’t mean it that way! Can I have a re-do?”

In a similar way, Mary had absolutely no warning of Gabriel’s visit or of his life-changing message. Yet somehow, her reaction demonstrated more faith. Her words were better chosen. Gabriel was not offended by her question, and he explained how a miraculous birth would occur. And then Mary responded (v.38): “I am the Lord’s servant … may your word to me be fulfilled.”  May the Holy Spirit help us consider our words more carefully to bring God the glory in our lives.