Learning how to speak wisely is like an art. In episode 5 David talks about one of the most important skills a Christian can ever learn – the art of discretion. The wise person speaks with discretion, and those who want to become wise must consciously work at improving the way they speak. The Bible teaches that those who learn the art of discretion enjoy many benefits, some of which may really surprise you!
1. What most impacted you about Episode 5?
2. What do you think it means to practise “discretion” when it comes to how we speak?
3. Have you ever been hurt because another person was careless with their words? What difference would it have made if they had communicated in a different way?
4. Why do you think it’s so important to God that we honor all people, even if their behaviour is not always honourable or respectful?
Action Point: Spend time reading and memorising the book of Proverbs. As you do this, ask God to help you to honour all people, speak with greater wisdom than ever before, and to practise the art of discretion.
hey guys and welcome back to this series on the power of words we’re now in episode five and this episode is called using words wisely and we’re going to be looking at one of the most important skills that you can ever learn as a christian and we’re also going to be talking about how we can handle and avoid getting involved in gossip which is what we looked at in the last episode so if you haven’t watched that yet please go and watch that before you continue watching this so we’re going to start with proverbs 16 verse 23 which says this the hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent and their lips promote instruction now someone who is prudent is someone who thinks very carefully before they do something and another word for prudence is cautiousness so a wise person doesn’t speak without thinking very carefully about what they’re about to say about who they’re about to say it to and about how they’re going to say it and in fact very often a wise person won’t say anything at all but that’s for another episode you see learning how to speak wisely is like an art you have to practice it and consciously work at improving your skill in this area now i know that not all of you are watching this series in english but in english we have a word that beautifully describes this art that i’m talking about and it’s the word discretion here’s the word the definition of this word in english it’s the quality of behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing confidential information and this is the word that almost all translators of the english bible used in proverbs chapter 2 verse 11. don’t worry if your translation uses a different word here it is proverbs 2 11 discretion will protect you and understanding will guard you now whatever word your bible uses it’s talking about careful consideration caution discernment understanding foresight wisdom or good judgment and it’s saying that this way of living and speaking will protect you it will literally keep you from harm but then we need to ask ourselves okay well where or how can we learn the art of discretion and one of the primary places that we can learn discretion is the book of proverbs look at this these are the first five verses of the book of proverbs proverbs 1 it says the proverbs of solomon son of david king of israel for gaining wisdom and instruction for understanding words of insight for receiving instruction in prudent behavior doing what is right and just and fair for giving prudence to those who are simple knowledge and discretion to the young let the wise listen and add to their learning and let the discerning get guidance and here it is again in chapter five it says my son pay attention to my wisdom turn your ear to my words of insight that you may maintain discretion and your lips may preserve knowledge so i’m giving away a secret here if you want to learn discretion read the book of proverbs and now i’m just about to show you a very interesting promise for those who learn the art of discretion this is in proverbs chapter 3 verses 21-24 look at this my son do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight preserve sound judgment and discretion they will be life for you an ornament to grace your neck then you will go on your way in safety and your foot will not stumble when you lie down you will not be afraid when you lie down your sleep will be sweet how many people do you know who have problems with fear or struggle to sleep at night you see i would say that there is a massive lack of discretion in our world today we could actually call it the lost art of discretion although of course it still exists in people who have learned the wisdom of the book of proverbs but of course it’s no surprise that in a world where discretion is lacking things like stress anxiety and all the sicknesses that come from them are on the increase so here’s my question for you would you like to learn the art of discretion would you like to learn how to speak wisely because if you would i want to tell you right now that it’s going to require a lot of discipline and i just want to remind you of what we looked at in episode 1 this is james three verse six it says the tongue also is a fire a world of evil among the parts of the body it corrupts the whole body sets the whole course of one’s life on fire and is itself set on fire by hell all kinds of animals birds reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind but no human being can tame the tongue it is a restless evil full of deadly poison this is not going to be an easy task but remember what i said in episode 1 i said no no human being contained the tongue but god can and i believe that god wants to tame your tongue and i’ve experienced him doing it in my life continuously so let’s start to get practical now how can we avoid that unconstrained casual talk about other people that is so damaging that we looked at in the last episode and when does a conversation become gossip well i think it depends on four things maybe five but we’re just going to look at four in this episode first thing is it depends on who we are speaking to now why is this important well very often if we’ve been wronged in some way we want to talk about it and in our hearts is usually a sense of injustice about the way that we’ve been treated so of course there are emotions involved and the way we feel is that we want someone to agree with us and affirm that sense of injustice that we have and say poor you that person was so wrong in the way that they treated you because we think that that is going to make us feel better perhaps it will but what’s the problem the problem is that we probably haven’t yet taken that pain and that frustration or that sense of injustice and annoyance of what we’ve witnessed or experienced somebody else do we probably haven’t taken that to god yet and we probably haven’t forgiven the person that we believe has committed some kind of sin or offense against us or somebody we love so what happens is we end up talking about it but we don’t often talk with the person who hurt us we end up talking to other people about it and what’s the problem with that well the problem with that is that jesus has told us exactly how we’re supposed to handle those situations he even gives us a clear four-step process this is matthew 18 15-17 he says if your brother sins against you go and tell him his fault between you and him alone if he listens to you you’ve gained your brother but if he does not listen take one or two others along with you that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses and if he refuses to listen to them tell it to the church and if he refuses to listen even to the church let him be to you as a gentile and a tax collector so guys if we are not ready to go to our brother or sister alone to talk to them about something we probably need to process what’s happened first of all with god and pour out our hearts to him and ask him to help us to forgive then we should go to the person who has hurt us not with anger or with a pointing finger but with a desire for reconciliation with humility and gentleness saying i need to tell you that the thing that you said or did really caused me pain and actually i would say that before you even do that search your heart and say to god god please show me if i’ve done anything wrong in this relationship because if you can include and i’m sorry when you go to that person it’s even more powerful and effective when it comes to bringing reconciliation and unity but i’m going to talk more about that in a later episode but what i’m saying is that before you start to speak to somebody else about something that’s happened to you stop and ask yourself am i being obedient to jesus in the way that i’m dealing with this situation because you may be about to enter into gossip we know from the last episode how destructive that can be now of course if you do go to your brother or sister and they refuse to listen to you then jesus says it’s okay to bring one or two other people into the picture but then i would say to you be very careful who you choose to share that information with now there’s one other aspect to the importance of who you’re talking to that i just want to mention here and this is when somebody has confided in you and shared personal information with you so proverbs 11 13 says a gossip betrays a confidence but a trustworthy person keeps a secret so the rule that i try to follow is this if someone shares something dear or personal with me even if they haven’t told me that this is a secret or this is confidential i generally don’t share that with anybody else and and don’t assume that they’ve already shared it with another person even if they have shared it with somebody else that doesn’t give you the right to start talking about it with somebody else one thing that’s also worth mentioning is this if you’re part of a leadership team that’s dealing with important decisions that affect other people do not share things that have been discussed in that meeting with people who are not part of that meeting or that leadership team you see you have to understand that people share things in the presence of those they believe they can trust those that they feel it’s safe to share that information with and it’s a tremendous honor and privilege to have somebody’s trust to have a person’s trust is like holding their heart in your hand you can protect it or you can break it i want to encourage you to be a person who can be trusted with the deep pearls of people’s hearts because i believe that god will use a person like that to mightily bring comfort healing and freedom to other people in private and maybe nobody else will know about that except you god and the other person and it will be such a privilege to be involved in other people’s lives in that way so here’s a basic rule that i mentioned in the last episode if the person you’re speaking about is not in the room and you wouldn’t want them to hear what you’re saying or how you’re saying it then it’s probably gossip okay so now let’s look at what we are saying proverbs 17 verse 9 says whoever would foster love covers an offense but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends so whenever we’re bringing up something that somebody else did in the past that was wrong we are usually not walking in love love covers other people’s mistakes now i’m not talking about covering a person’s ongoing sin so that they can just get away with it because love speaks the truth and we’re gonna have a whole episode on that but what i’m saying is that love doesn’t bring those things up and keep repeating them and one of the reasons for this is that love keeps no record of wrongs in the first place so when first corinthians 13 talks about love it says it does not dishonor others it is not self-seeking it is not easily angered it keeps no record of wrongs so if you don’t have a record of wrongs you won’t be speaking about other people’s mistakes if you do have a record of wrongs you probably haven’t learned how to deal with the sins of others now the true transaction of forgiveness sets you free from all of that and if you want to learn what the true transaction of forgiveness is can i encourage you to watch episode 9 of the fulfill your calling video series now if we are speaking about something that somebody else did that was wrong we have to ask ourselves why am i speaking about that so the third thing is why we’re saying something the big question here is are we saying it for the benefit of the person that we’re speaking about or the person that we’re speaking to ephesians 4 29 says do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for the building others for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen why is this so important well because love is not self-seeking as we just read so if we’re saying something for our benefit rather than the benefit of the person that we’re speaking at to or about we’re not walking in love and i think that often we make excuses for why we think it’s okay to be talking about another person but many of those excuses are not valid at all i’ve even heard what i would call gossip in the name of leadership you know when people say well because we’re that person’s leaders it’s okay to be talking about them like this and i would say no it’s not very often it’s not okay to be talking about them like that and so what i’m saying is that we need to check our motives sometimes there are cases in which we need to warn somebody about another person for example if a new new family moves into your neighborhood and you see a neighbor befriending them who you know is not a safe person to be around their children you might need to say something and and so in those cases where we do need to say something the next consideration is how are we saying it we don’t go up to them and say watch out for that person because i heard they did this this this this this and this and slander that person no we need to use discretion in all of our speech so we need to carefully consider what needs to be said and what does not need to be said and this is all about honoring others now think about how you would like others to speak about you if you made a big mistake i don’t know about you but i would hope that if i made a big mistake that i would have the opportunity to realize that i’d made a mistake realize what i’d done was wrong learn from it and change because that’s the opportunity that god gave me and that’s the opportunity that god gave you and perhaps that’s why the bible says that love always hopes first corinthians 13 7 it says it always protects always trusts always hopes and always perseveres so i think it’s helpful if we take the position that we will always hope for the best in someone always give them a chance and never stop believing that they can change that doesn’t mean that we walk into situations that are unwise or unsafe for us or our families but we’ve got to maintain that hope and belief that that person can change you see i believe that honor is also something that is lacking in our society and romans 12 10 says honor one another above yourselves so we can ask ourselves is the way that i’m speaking about this person honoring to them the bible doesn’t just say that we should honor those who deserve to be honored it says that we should honor and respect everyone simply just because they are people they’re made in the image of god first peter 2 17 says show proper respect to everyone or in some translations it says honor all men love the family of believers fear god honor the emperor so if you think a person’s speech or behavior is not honorable choose to honor them simply because god made them and before you speak think to yourself is the way i’m about to speak about this person going to negatively affect the way that my listener sees this person and if it is maybe it’s not necessary to speak that thing out you see as much as possible people need to be able to make up their own minds about another person from their own interactions with that person imagine if you were in a really good relationship with me and we didn’t see each other for a few months and if you then saw me you would expect me to treat you in the way that i did last time we saw each other in a way that our relationship and our trust deserves but imagine if in that time that we hadn’t seen each other somebody had come to me and said said negative things to me about you and i had believed those things and allowed those things to change my view of you and actually affect my trust in you i think you would be really disappointed that i was treating you in that way so here’s my tip in most cases if somebody speaks to you about something in a way that is not right according to what we’ve looked at in the last two episodes i would say forgive that person process the information and your own frustration or pain with god then forgive whoever they spoke about just in case what that person did they really is true and then continue as if you had never received that information because if that information came to you in the wrong way perhaps it wasn’t god who wanted you to have that information perhaps it was the enemy who wanted you to have that information let it go keep no record of wrongs and speak only what will benefit those who are listening you see gossip and slander are destroying lives they have the potential to destroy your life and my life and gossip and slander travel along a chain from one person to the next and i want to encourage you to make sure that that chain ends with you let’s pray father we just want to thank you so much for all the practical tips that are in your word father we want to thank you that we understand that love keeps no record of wrongs and love covers an offense lord would you teach us the art of discretion and father we just want to say sorry to you right now lord when we have not carefully considered the words that we’ve allowed to come out of our mouths would you forgive us right now would you fill us with your holy spirit and would you help us to use our words wisely and may we enjoy all the benefits and blessings that come with those who speak with wisdom and discretion in jesus name amen i’ll see you in episode six.