“There is a difference between truly listening and waiting for your turn to talk.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Live at Peace
Doing your part to live at peace with others is highly contextual. Specific situations and people require certain and different actions and words. The right response varies from one context to the next. At the same time, there is one approach that applies in almost every situation.
“The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)
“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.” (Proverbs 21:23)
“Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.” (Proverbs 26:20)
In a nutshell, take care with the words you use. If possible, don’t use them.
All About Balance
The theme of watching what we say is clear throughout the book of Proverbs. The rest of Scripture is not silent about the importance of the words we use either. In fact, considering the balance of what we say to what we do not say is better for everyone involved.
“Turn your ear to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2)
“Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear.” (Proverbs 25:12)
“Much dreaming and many words are meaningless.” (Ecclesiastes 5:7)
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens… a time to be silent and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
In other words: Talk less and listen more. Simple but not easy.
Ask for Help
Sometimes, not saying something takes all the self-control I have, and there’s little left for engaging in listening. Yet, truly listening is often what’s necessary to understand another and to establish a peaceful relationship.
On my own, I fail to keep quiet and to listen all too often. I need help.
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
God never lets me down. He faithfully leads me to fulfilling his desires for my relationships. He’ll do the same for you too.
For more on the impact of what we say and how we say it, read James 3.