My father was a talented carpenter and I’m thankful for the woodworking skills he passed down to me. One day he was helping me cut a beautiful 100 year old oak beam to make a mantel for my fireplace. I measured the wood and got ready to make the cut.
Just by watching me, he knew that I was about to cut the beam in the wrong place. He stopped me and said, “Once you cut the wood you can never take the cut back, so always make sure you’re cutting in the right spot.” I realized he was warning me that I was about to cut in the wrong place. I measured again and dad was right. The first measurement was wrong.
My Dad had a way of wrapping up short truthful statements with wisdom and advice…Dad had his own proverbs. When it came to making sure you cut the wood in the right place his proverb was, “measure twice-cut once.” I have found many applications for this particular proverb throughout my life.
Dad’s lesson applies to how we talk with each other…especially those we love. How many times have you said something hurtful that you wish you hadn’t said? How many times do you even think about what you say before you say it? Once something is said the words can never be taken back. Yes, we can apologize, but taking words back is like un-ringing a bell…you just can’t do it.
We all have trouble reacting before we think, especially when we feel hurt, sad, anxious, and rejected, or have other uncomfortable emotions we are trying to defend against or relieve. The ability to tolerate discomfort and identify a better way to respond or react to a situation is not naturally built into us. Nor is it how society teaches us to handle life. Yet these are the Biblical principles James and Solomon exhort us to practice and hone.
We all make comments we regret. We wish we could just rewind the tape…have a do-over. Today, develop the discipline of decision-making, where thinking is a vital component. Try to “think twice and speak once.” A few moments invested in thought will save many moments of guilt, shame, and hustling to remedy the damage. Also, try to identify the needs, fears, or emotions that push you to speak before you get a chance to think. This is actually a great spiritual exercise in heart examination.
Dear Father God, I confess, Father, that I have been guilty of using wrong, harsh words with others. I have misused the gift You have given me of a quick mind. I pray, Lord, that You will fill me with your Holy Spirit…and that I give Your Spirit time to respond as I speak and write. Help me be quick to listen, disciplined to think, and slow to speak…and let me see Your message in everything. I pray in the name of the one You sent to teach me, Jesus Christ; and all God’s children said – AMEN!
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
…be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,