Example 1

No picture today, because you can’t see our topic!

Be an example to all believers in what you say… (1 Timothy 4:12).

You can hear it, feel it, and speak it. You can see words written on a page, but you have to imagine a person’s tone of voice, facial expression, and body language while reading what they’ve written. Speech is made up of all of these. We can become masters at saying one thing and meaning something completely different, and our listeners rely on reading our unspoken language just as much as (or more than) our actual choice of words. So…no picture!

James says,

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way (James 3:2).

Is it any wonder Paul mentions speech first when he’s encouraging Timothy to be an example? If we could only get that under control, the rest of our issues would follow!

James also writes,

People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:7).

Oh, gracious. How are we to be examples in something so difficult? First, we find out what good speech sounds like.  Here are a few goals for us:

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body (Ephesians 4:25).

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them (Ephesians 4:29).

At the end of the day, most of us can look back and see where we’ve fallen short. I’m so grateful for 1 John 1:9, which says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” Each morning begins a new day, and a new opportunity to strengthen our control over our words!  Ask God for His help today, as David did:

Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips (Psalm 141:3).

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).

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