Sometimes habits are difficult to break. So difficult you develop a reputation. My current struggle is jumping to conclusions. You can probably see how rhythmic a nickname like “Jump to Conclusion, Susan” sounds. It would so easily stick, yet it is not a label I want!!
But I just did it again. That jumping to a conclusion thing.
Opening the refrigerator door, I saw a plate of deviled eggs on the shelf. Knowing my husband was preparing them for church refreshments, I mentioned there weren’t many eggs on the plate for a crowd.
If I had just turned around, I would have discovered a pot of hardboiled eggs in the sink that had not yet been prepared. What I didn’t know before making the comment, was that he wasn’t doing ordinary eggs but different types. Some were plain, but others had blue cheese mixed into the yolks and others sriracha.
I saw meager, but he was actually going beyond and above what is expected.
As the critical words were leaving my mouth, the Holy Spirit was convicting me. Too late in that situation, but I could prepare for the next time, so I began investigating the better options.
The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about speaking too soon. Here are a few words of wisdom found in this book:
“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” Proverbs 18:13 ESV
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” Proverbs 21:23 ESV
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” Proverbs 10:19 ESV
The Holy Spirit prompted James to write some good advice for those of us prone to jump to conclusions, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.” (1:19) He sums up the direction given in Proverbs.
A quick comment allows no time for fact gathering or explanations.
To jump to a conclusion is to hastily form an opinion before gathering all the facts. (thefreedictionary.com) Cognitive therapy theories claim the conclusions are generally negative without much evidence. This is bad news for a Christian because a negative attitude does not glorify God.
Obviously, I need to adjust my attitude, but how exactly can I do this? Here are a few Biblical principles I will put into place.
1-Motivate, rather than deflate.
It is difficult to discover the very scripture you have claimed is the verse you are failing to practice. My website proclaims, “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” Hebrews 10:24
The deviled eggs were an act of love, a good work, and deserved a compliment. Effort had been put forth to boil the eggs, peel them, remove the yolks, and prepare the filling. My husband had put the yolk filling in a plastic baggy and cut the corner so he could squeeze it into the indentation in the egg white for an artistic presentation.
To prevent negative comments notice what is rather than what is not. A comment on the plate presentation rather than the number of eggs would be more motivational, providing the incentive to continue to make refreshments for church fellowship.
1 Thessalonians 5:11a states “Encourage each other and build each other up.” I don’t see any exceptions offered.
The definition of encourage is “to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to give support to, foster; to stimulate, spur.” (freedictionary.com)
Will my words encourage, build someone up? Or will my words discourage, tear someone down?
3-Practice, practice, practice
Ephesians 4:29 is a scripture that keeps on giving. The Holy Spirit brings me back to this verse periodically as I let its practice lapse. We focused on this verse for several months in our youth group, printing Ephesians 4:29 cards to hand to anyone who tore down rather than built up. The cards were prompted by too much trash talk.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV)
In Christ Jesus we are created for good works. We don’t have to look far to uncover them. Each time we open our mouth is an opportunity for ministry.
1-Consider your daily interactions. Are there any areas of speech that need attention? If so, how do you plan to address them?
2-What is your favorite Biblical advice on speech? Leave your scripture reference in the comment section.