Have you ever heard the expression Think before you speak? A long time ago, I learned it in a different way. I learned to truly T.H.I.N.K. When you are about to say something about which you are unsure, take a few seconds to run it through your mind.
It is True? Do you know that it is the truth? Is it gossip? Are you embellishing to make something else seem more interesting?
Don't be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you'd have a perfect person, in perfect control of life.
Is it Helpful? Will it benefit anyone for you to say this?
A bit in the mouth of a horse controls the whole horse. A small rudder on a huge ship in the hands of a skilled captain sets a course in the face of the strongest winds. A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything—or destroy it!
Is it Important? What is the reason that you are considering saying this?
It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.
Is it Necessary? Does it really need to be said, or do you just like to hear yourself talk?
This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth!
Is it Kind? Will it hurt someone if you say it? Will it lift up someone?
My friends, this can't go on. A spring doesn't gush fresh water one day and brackish the next, does it? Apple trees don't bear strawberries, do they? Raspberry bushes don't bear apples, do they? You're not going to dip into a polluted mud hole and get a cup of clear, cool water, are you?
If you run through the list, and you cannot answer yes to any of these questions, then why would you say it? Should you say it?
Bible verses quoted from James 3 in The Message.