“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Doesn’t it feel good when we say the right thing at the right time? Some words are golden! The trouble is sometimes our words are more like kindling than gold. In James, it’s written, “The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body” (James 3:6). How many of us can shout an amen to that! Those fires aren’t easy to put out either! We’ve all said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Sometimes the signal between the heart and tongue gets messed up, and sometimes we just don’t think first but either way we have all messed up in what we have said. James says, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check” (James 3:2).

Perfection is the goal, not the reality. So what do we do? How do we put the fire out? Silence would be a good start. Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out.” Allowing the brain to catch up is the right starting place.

You will also likely get a reply to your comment, so do as Jesus told his disciples: “Consider carefully what you hear” (Mark 4:24). Keep your tongue under control. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” (James 1:19).

The third step is as Proverbs also says, “If you have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, to free yourself, since you have fallen into your neighbors hands: Go and humble yourself” (Proverbs 6:2-3).

This is probably the hardest, but also the most healing part: humble yourself. It’s not the time to be right; as the King James puts it, Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another” (Galatians 5:26). Any fool can stir up trouble, but it takes a man of strength to be humble when pride wants to rule.

We will all say things we wish we hadn’t; we won’t always speak golden words. And, once they are out of our mouths, we can’t get them back; but, by following God’s word, we can turn kindling into gold.




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