While reading Proverbs 15, it occurred to me that our words and conversations tend to mimic traffic movements. They can cause back up, congestion, gridlock, bottleneck, traffic jams, and/or noise pollution.
Just as we are legally required to follow traffic rules, our words can certainly benefit from conversation filters and rules: when is it appropriate to speak, listen, or be silent (yes, silence is an option).
Rules of conversation
Proverbs 15 outlines certain rules of conversation and how to respond to different personalities. Since we’re all familiar with traffic light signals (at least I hope so, I’ve seen many a nincompoop run a red light), I thought it valuable to outline some key principles for congenial conversation.
Red—Stop! End conversation
A hot-tempered person starts fights; a cool-tempered person stops them (15:18)
- Harsh words: stir up anger
- Deceitful words: crush the spirit
- Foolish mouths: belch out nonsense
- Mouths of the wicked: are sewers of abuse
Amber—Proceed with caution! Weigh conversation
The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking (15:28)
- Words of discipline/constructive criticism: either heed or reject; your response will determine your level of growth and understanding
- Words of advice: either listen or ignore; your response will impact your plan’s success or failure
Green—Go! Encourage conversation
A calm, cool spirit keeps the peace (15:18)
- Gentle answers: defuse anger
- Kind words: heal and help
- Perceptive words: spread knowledge
- Good news: good health
God is watching
Connecting with people through conversation can add joy or misery. Wouldn’t it be awesome to be known as someone who says the right word at the right time, and brings life and healing to conversations?
That being said, a guiding principle to live by is this:
3The eyes of the Lord are everywhere,
keeping watch on the wicked and the good.
Knowing that nothing is hidden from God (even death and destruction hold no secrets from Him) forces us to be mindful of our words, and especially the condition of our hearts, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
So, don’t run a red light or make an illegal turn just because you think nobody is watching!
What are your guiding principles for filtering your language? What rules of conversation do you live by?