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Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. Proverbs 25:11 (NLT)

Saying the right thing at the right time is a priceless gift each of us should strive to receive. I once knew a person who had many good ideas about how things should be done at his place of employment. The problem was that he would often make his suggestions at the worst possible moment. Usually this was during some crisis or problem when emotions were high. While his words were intended to be helpful, they would often have the effect of pouring gasoline on a fire. People would be offended and tempers would flare.

My friend’s situation may be an extreme situation but each of us has experienced the pain of words spoken at the wrong time and place. Sometimes it may have been our own words. Other times words spoken to us.

The message of Proverbs 25:11 is that advice is good and to be treasured, but we each must learn to use our words carefully, choosing the right words for the right time. One of the best ways to do this is to learn how to ‘respond and NOT react’ to a situation. Responding to a situation means we take the time to evaluate exactly what is going on and take into account the emotions of everyone involved in the situation.

When tempers are already at the boiling point or emotions are already high it is often best to wait, if possible, until things have cooled a bit before you speak. There have been times when people have said things to me that, at first, I took offense to, as though they were attacking me personally. When I’m able to step back from the situation it’s easier for me to respond in a way that is less retaliatory. If I have the proper view of who I am in Jesus, then peoples words, even if they are attacking, have less impact on me. Determine within yourself that the words of other people will not affect who I am and how I feel about myself.

Our words can also be helpful in steering people from situations and activities that could harm them. This is especially true for us as parents and grandparents. When we see our children engaging in activities that may be harmful to them it’s very important that we assure them of our love and find positive ways to ‘pass on our wisdom’. Saying things that are derogatory about our children’s/grandchildren’s activities or friends will most likely have an opposite effect that we’d hoped for. Sarcasm and critical words will steer them away from us. Saying “I told you so” will be more destructive than constructive.

Take time to actively listen to others before offering your own advice. Ask questions to make sure you understand exactly where they are coming from. Don’t allow their feelings about you, God or others to influence your reaction. How they ‘feel’ is most likely a symptom of a deeper struggle they are having within themselves. It takes time to heal those wounds. Your words can act either as a salve to soothe the wound or as salt to irritate and inflict further pain. The choice is yours.

PRAYER: Father God, Your Word constantly reminds me that my words are powerful tools or powerful weapons. There are so many times when I’m misunderstood or I say the right thing at the wrong time. I tend to react rather than respond when I’m attacked or things don’t go my way. I let other people’s words affect how I feel about myself. Please empower me with Your Holy Spirit to use the words I speak as a healing salve and to refuse to let other people’s words affect how I feel about me. I am your child. No one and no words can change that! Thank you. Amen.

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