Writers understand that each word is a treasure. A rightly used word is a pearl to be sought after, polished carefully and precisely placed in the perfect setting. And so it is with our speech, even more now than ever. As much of my involvement with the world is through Social Media, I realise the gravity words carry. The most liberal use of emoticons cannot take the place of clearly defining your message.
Just because you haven’t published a blog, a book, or a podcast and just because you’ve rarely spoken on a platform, it doesn’t mean you are off the hook. Words carry weight.
When I am chit-chatting with a friend over a cup of coffee, they see my facial expressions. They read the subtle and not-so-subtle changes in my body language and voice inflexion. Hopefully, it’s easy for them to gauge my intent. Those who know me well know that I tend to use satire and sarcasm quite often as a way to carry my message. While we might get away with more when we are speaking face-to-face with others, but even then we need to be careful.
My friends know that I try not to use my wit to tear down others and so they are at ease with me. When I cross the line, I am swift to apologise. I then go one step further; asking them to call me out if my metaphorical toes and dangling close to the line.
I must be aware of the setting in which my words will be displayed. A light conversation with a friend who is obviously in a good mood? Bring on the good-natured ribbing, light satire, and small talk. A more serious conversation with the same friend whose body language tells me they are not in the space for playful banter? Now is not the time to use humour as a means to carry my message.
On Social Media using a public setting where people not from my background might not understand the concepts that I am presenting? I must choose my words wisely and stay clear of presumptive language that assumes my audience knows where I am coming from.
If I want to communicate my heart’s intentions appropriately, I should craft and chisel my words and inflexions in such a way that they will shine in the provided setting.
Proverbs 25:11 ESV – “A word is fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Does that mean that levity and silliness are never options? I sure hope not. I love my sense of humour; it’s got me through tough seasons.
Am I saying we can never speak off the cuff? No. But I am saying that we must be aware of the setting in which our words will be heard and read and carefully select those words to fit that setting.
I believe Philippians 4:8 and I Corinthians 13:4-7 to be excellent self-editing tools. Does what you are writing or saying fit into the perimeters set by these verses?
Are your words true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy? Are your words patient and kind? Do they reveal your envy, boastfulness, or pride? Do your words dishonour others? Are they self-promoting? Do you use your words to express your anger against the world? Do unforgiveness and bitterness creep into your language? Do you use your words to convey delight when anyone, including your enemies, meets with calamity? Do you use your words to express the truth while protecting others? Do your words glisten with hope even amid hardship? Do your words inspire others to keep on going even when the going gets tough?
Lin Pearson, my friend and former editor, commented on the above quote. “But when we bleed, it is what is in our hearts that emerges.”
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2019 Katherine Walden
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