Think Twice, Speak Once

“Think twice. Speak once.”

I’m not sure where this thought came from, but when I was pretty certain someone was about to say something they would regret, it’s what I said.

They stopped their conversation, looked at me in confusion, and asked me to explain what I meant. I did, and the distraction worked. Words that would have hurt, words that would have lead to trouble, words that did not need to be spoken were contained inside someone’s private thoughts.

A couple weeks ago I was sitting in a meeting and the conversation took a turn for the worse. An individual brought someone up by name…UH OH!

“Should you say this out loud? Is it uplifting? You know! Think twice, speak once!”

Did I mention I was speaking to my elder? To a spiritual elder at that?


Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. James 3:5-10

The tongue may be small, but it is powerful. Left unchecked it can cause a forest fire.

Sometimes we think we are simply making a statement, but in all truth we are gossiping, slandering, speaking ill of someone, or really hurting someone’s feelings by saying something they interpret as negative. Sometimes we just let our tongue run away with itself and find ourselves saying things we can never take back.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I’ve always hated that saying. Even as a child.

See, sticks and stones leave visible scars that the world can see. Words leave scars, too. However, we can’t visibly see the scars so sometimes they’re harder for the world to accept and acknowledge.

Words hurt.

I try not to roll my eyes or giggle when I hear people push the “use your words” phrase as a way for others to express themselves without resorting to “violence”. Some of the worst violence I’ve witnessed has been delivered via verbal abuse.

Words are violent. Every bit as violent as physical force.

We have a choice. We can use our words for good or bad.

Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:34-37

Where do the words from our tongue come from?


They overflow out of our heart.

The words I say out loud are in direct relation to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and everyone who hears my words can make that judgment accordingly.

By my words I will either by justified or condemned.

Yes, this scripture is in reference to my final judgment, but in honesty isn’t my walk being judged every single day by every single person who hears me speak?

I need to be careful and weigh my words.

Think twice. Speak once.

How do I know people listen to things we say and are affected by them? Last month I shared a story of someone affected by something my son said. You can read that story here: Love Lessons From a Teenager. Today I was pulled aside in confidence and told by another adult that they had heard that story from the same adult who told my husband. They were amazed by what my son did, or should I say said.

Folks, there were a lot of words spoken in that conversation that day. Some of the words spoken made an impact for good. Some of the words spoken made an impact that tore down an individual.

We don’t need to great things every day. We need to do small things intentionally every day that will make a difference.

This week I’m going to focus on my speech. Am I building others up or tearing them down? Do I think twice before I speak or do I just fly off the handle? 

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