The words a person chooses to speak are a window through which to see and know their heart. According to statisticians, the average man speaks about 25,000 words a day, and the average woman 30,000. From the first “good morning” to the last “good night,” each engages in approximately 30 conversations a day. So given these figures, the average person spends about 15 years, or about one-fifth, of his or her life talking.
Armed with this statistical information, we could ask ourselves, what am I saying with these 25,000 or 30,000 words? What are my words saying about me? Jesus says each person speaks from their heart’s abundance: what am I disclosing when I speak? What is revealed of my heart’s abundance when I open my mouth? Do my words calm, soothe, heal and uplift, or do they wound and berate? Do my words encourage, enlarge and edify? Or do they dampen others hopes, belittle, and tear down?
What do my words reveal of my heart? When they explode in anger at the slightest provocation? If complaining and nitpicking are my customary mode of conversation, if I am quick to point out the speck in another’s eye, but miss the plank in my own,
If I delete a compliment with a cutting remark, as in, “What a lovely outfit. If you would lose a few pounds it would fit even better.” Or, “Congratulations, on your promotion; too bad it took you so long.”
What does such speech say about me when I cannot rejoice, but prefer instead to grouse in resentment at another’s good fortune? When I choose words that curse rather than words that bless? When I choose criticism over caring? Or when I take part in gossip, when I participate in character assassination. There is a saying in the Jewish Talmud: the gossiping tongue kills three; the victim of the gossip, the gossiper, and the one who listens to the gossiper. Billy Graham once said that the true Christian is a person who can give his pet parrot to the town gossip.
I think that most of us are well-intentioned, and would not gossip, curse, complain, or criticize others, but once in a while, we all forget ourselves. It might be good to think before we speak and try to respond rather than react to one another. Unfortunately, our mouths are too frequently in motion before our minds and hearts go into gear.
We need to listen to ourselves, look at ourselves, and then correct what needs to be corrected because we can’t guide others if we are blind ourselves. And we can’t correct others effectively if we are riddled with fault ourselves. Ask yourself, what is the effect of my life on those around me? We have thousands of words, thousands of opportunities a day. That is either a lot of love or a lot of hate.
Have you ever been at a loss for words? Would that have been a good time for someone else to do the talking? Is that the time to listen?