“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” Proverbs 17:27 (NIV)
There is something silly that happens when you give a boy a BB gun; he shoots it. Everything becomes a target. Trees, cans, signs, abandoned cars (not cars that are driven because that is bad…not that I would know), bottles, random wildlife. As a lad with a BB gun, I shot quite the variety of things, but there was a certain thrill shooting at small, moving creatures. (Go ahead and judge me.) Most of the time I would miss or the critter would scatter away. I say most of the time because there was that one time. I saw a Blue Jay calmly sitting in the tree, enjoying the day, doing what birds do. So I did what a juvenile male does when he has a BB gun and sees a bird within range. I lined him up on the sight and pulled the trigger.
He immediately fell from the tree.
I remember just standing over the dead bird amazed that my wimpy BB gun took his life. All I could do was just stand there. I didn’t know what to do because every other time a BB flew from the barrel, the animal just flew off or ran away. It was so inglorious. This wasn’t suppose to happen. I wasn’t a hunter, just a pesky kid trying to have innocent fun. I went in the house and sat on the living room couch trying to absorb the moment.
An innocent idea took a bad turn.
Just how I underestimated the power of my own BB gun, we can underestimate the power of our words. A little joke here, a snide comment there and all of a sudden we have hurt someone more that we meant to. It seemed like what was said wasn’t a big deal, but then the aftereffects show otherwise. We must keep in mind that our words do something. Words can hurt people despite what the old rhyme tells us.
Proverbs are helpful nuggets of wisdom because they are like “How to Not Be an Idiot and Survive” sayings. There is an old one that says, “The one who has knowledge uses words restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.” People that have the ability to use restraint with their words, especially people that are notably intelligent and seemingly have the right to say about anything, are always impressive to me. Their words are timely and life giving. They realize the power they wield when they speak. So if you are that person, thank you for the example you set. It is a much needed lesson in the world today. For the rest, find a way to fight the urge to always talk or spill your guts on Facebook. One trick a wonderfully talkative friend of mine used was to find a way to speak second. That might work for you. Maybe just stopping and thinking three steps ahead will help. Whatever you choose to help you, please make a point to use words carefully. They can change someone’s life.