A Prescription for Wise Words
By Lisa Nuss
The last time I was prescribed a medication by my doctor, I read the instructions that came with it, and after listing all of the possible side effects there was a statement that caught my attention. “Your doctor has prescribed this medicine for you because it is believed that the benefit outweighs the risk of possible side effects.” In other words, the end result of taking this prescription is worth the minor discomfort it may possibly create. The thought of it being worth it despite the potential drawbacks makes me consider an analogy to tie to our new sermon series, “Worth It.”
God is sometimes referred to as the Great Physician, right? Well, if God is the physician, then the Bible is his prescription for my life. There may be some consequences or side effects from following his directives that seem negative in the eyes of the world, but in the long run it is worth it because of the end result it will produce in my life.
So, what would a prescription for wise words look like? Here are what I believe could be some possibilities:
Change Your Tone
Colossians 4:6 (NIV) – Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
Two people can say the exact same thing, but the tone in which it is said can change the meaning completely. Take this very simple sentence, “Ok, I’ll go,” and think about how many different ways you could interpret that based on the tone of voice used when saying it. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of misunderstanding communication due to the tone that was used. This is especially important in written communication because it’s so easy to be misunderstood when you’re not standing right in front of the person, and an emoji can only do so much in communicating intention.
Listen More Than You Talk
Proverbs 18:13 (NIV) – To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.
When someone else is talking to me and sharing a problem they’re having or something that happened to them, it’s easy for me to jump in and tell my own story that relates or offer advice. On a good day, I’ll remember that the conversation isn’t about me, and this is my opportunity to just be there and support my friend instead of turning the conversation to be about me. How often are you in a conversation and rather than really listening to what the other person is saying, you’re thinking about what you’re going to say next? It happens to me a lot. I want to have something wise and helpful to share, so I feel like I need to be thinking about it, but sometimes what people need aren’t more words or someone to fix their problem but someone to listen and understand. I’m trying to get better at being fully present in a conversation and figuring out what the other person is actually wanting rather than what I want. Even if what he or she wants is my help or advice, I’ll give a much better answer if I’m listening to the question first.
Start with the Heart
Luke 6:45 (NLT) – A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
There’s a song I remember learning as a child that still pops into my mind from time to time. The first line of the chorus says, “Input, output / What goes in is what comes out,” and it’s true! The things that we watch, listen to, read, and think about are what get ingrained into our hearts and minds and will automatically come out of our mouths. Is what we’re putting in what we would want to have come out? I have found that if I slack off on reading my Bible and talking with God on a regular basis, it will often come out in my words.
While this may not be a comprehensive “prescription” for wise words, it’s a good place to start and it’s worth it! How about you? What words will you choose this week?