Empty and Idle Words

SmokestackEasier to speak the words than to follow with deeds or actions

Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often. Mark Twain

When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain. William Shakespeare

A picture is worth a thousand words. Napoleon Bonaparte

  “Easier said than done”, “Words are cheap”, and “Put your money where your mouth is” are but a few expressions reminding us “Actions speak louder than words.” There are many similar expressions saying the same thing. We need reminding from time to time to be better stewards of the words we speak.

    How often do we get “puffed up” and try to impress others by our feats and accomplishments or with what we claim we can do or have done in the past. Who has not made claims as to their skills or accomplishments? Are they truthful or mostly truthful, but exaggerated? Males have ongoing ego problems and need to impress others. They often try to do so by the words they speak.

    How many times do we mess up by claiming we can do something or promising do something? Our words are often only hot air escaping. Our intent was more to impress than to do what we said we would do. Males are guilty of trying to impress others with their masculinity, athleticism, intelligence and wit. We act unwise and immature by saying such things as we can eat a dozen hot dogs, do two hundred pushups, lift the bumper of a car or all kinds of other silly and stupid boasts. What about the one that got away? It is so hard to resist temptation to embellish. We are putting our foot in our mouth with our idle and empty words? Have we promised to do something for others such as helping them move, helping on a project, or just to socialize with little or no intent to follow through. We can remember individuals who have done this to us more than once.

    What kind of credibility do those who issue idle words have with us? How many times have we allowed such individuals to burn us, disappoint, or leave us hanging? Better yet, what kind of credibility and trust do we have with those to whom we have done this? As much as we dislike this being done to us, we are well advised to remember how others feel when we do it to them. A good rule of thumb: “Say what we mean and mean what we say.” It is wise to speak cautiously and slowly, carefully thinking about what we say, while being as truthful as possible. Avoid the use of empty and idle words!

Challenge: You are responsible and accountability not only for your actions, but also, the words you speak. Your words have costs and consequences. It stands to reason and is common sense that words should be used carefully. Idle words, boasts, hurtful words, broken promises, speaking in anger and lies are but a few of the many ways your words will harm you and others. Words are powerful; use them wisely, carefully, and skillfully.

Wisdom: Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning. Benjamin Franklin

Spiritual: (NIV)

A quick-tempered man does foolish things. Proverbs 14:17

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Colossians 3:8

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

It is good to carefully monitor what comes out of our mouths. We can use our words for good and worthwhile purposes instead of being deceitful or hurtful, or for boasting or trying to mask our poor self image. One sure way to start cleaning up our act is to allow God’s Holy Spirit to hold us accountable and responsible for what we say. He will help us harness our tongue and the words it utters for better purposes.

Prayer: Help me to become a better steward of the words I speak.


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