(If you need to know what this is all about, start with the first in the series and follow the successive links. Also, links to each post in this series are added to that first post as they are made live on the website).
Today, I want to…
…Say Something Worth Repeating
I can’t help but notice what this resolution does not say. It does not say, “I want to say something worth crediting to me.” Some will look at this statement, as I was initially tempted to, and be filled with pride. Oh yes, I want to say something everyone will take upon their lips and repeat the world around. I want it to find its way in to the news, into books, into magazine articles. I want to make sure my name is in the byline. I want people repeating me and knowing it is me they are repeating. I want to be a Jesus, a Socrates, a Benjamin Franklin, a Mark Twain. I want to say things people will record and for which people will hold me in renown.
However, that is not what this resolution says. This resolution says, “I want to say something worth repeating.” You want to say things that will be alright to say again. You want to say things that if someone else says them, it will be alright. You want to say things that if someone does happen to quote you and credit you with them, you won’t be ashamed. Certainly, you want to say things that are so helpful people will want to repeat them. But first, you need to say things that are okay to repeat.
Some Things Aren’t Worth Saying the First Time
This is not as easy as it sounds. There are all kinds of things that are shameful to say the first time, let alone repeat–gossip, slander, foul language, malice, dirty jokes, confidences, bitterness, hate, lewdness.The list could go on. When we see this list, we easily recognize how bad these things are, but they so easily creep into our speech.
There is a thrill that comes from knowing something and passing it on. For a moment, there is a power you feel as you pass on some juicy detail of gossip and slander or even just passing on something told you in confidence. However, in the end the gossip, slander, and betraying of confidences destroys your relationships and leaves you empty and wasted.
There is a thrill that comes with venting malice, anger, and hatred. You’ll get a little payoff as you get to say the deepest and darkest things you feel and watch others tremble. However, once that moment passes all that will be left you is the knowledge of the hurt and damage you have wreaked in the lives of others and in your relationship with them.
There is a thrill that comes from dabbling in the immoral. You’ll get a little pay off from passing on the immoral jokes, making the lewd double entendres, repeating the foul language. Some small part of you will feel mature. After all, that is the stuff for mature audiences. However, as time goes on, that speech will crowd out your maturity and you will find you are actually immature and unable to relate to people on any level of real maturity. Your mind will be filled with immorality and you will not be able to relate to people as people. They will merely be objects for your immoral thoughts and words.
Trust me, the momentary thrill of these kinds of base speech are not worth the lasting damage they cause to your spirit, your relationships, your life. These things are not worth saying once, let alone repeating.
Paul’s Three Keys for Saying Something Worth Repeating
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Paul provides us with three keys to make sure we are saying something worth repeating.
1. Good for building up.
Picture the person you are talking to as a home. Your words need to build, fortify, strengthen that house, not something that tears down, weakens, or destabilizes it. You need to be laying good foundations in that relationship. You need to be providing great support. You need to be adding protection.
No doubt, at times you will have to say negative things. Every house needs some work. You may have to help remove rotten wood or caulk destructive leaks. Remember, however, your words in this instance are to be about repair and restrengthening, not about demolition and destruction. Your attitude in these cases makes all the difference.
2. Fitting the occasion.
Your words should be appropriate to what is going on. They should meet the needs of the moment. Nothing is worse than the guy who can’t stand the tension, stress, emotion of a moment so he cracks an inappropriate joke. Then there is the woman who can’t seem to stand someone else being the center of attention and pulls every conversation back to herself. Of course, there is always the well-meaning person who believes his job is to fix everything and won’t listen long enough to see all he needs to do is be supportive.
Sometimes, the most fitting thing for the occasion is to simply be quiet. Silence almost always bears repeating. You want to say things worth repeating, but often the occasion merely warrants listening. One of the best ways to say things worth repeating is to just not say much. I can guarantee you this, not saying much will cause people to listen more closely when you do say something.
Having said that, there are also times when silence is not right. When you witness abuse, misuse of power, infringement of justice, error, you have to stand up and speak. Many may not like you, but as long as truth and right are on your side then you’ll be saying things worth repeating.
3. Giving grace.
I know we mentioned this as we learned to write things worth reading, but Paul said something here worth repeating. Whether in writing or in speech, our words should be gifts. They should bestow goodwill, pleasure, blessing.
Picture a birthday party. The table is laden with gifts and whoever you are speaking to is about to open your gift. How would they respond if what was on the inside of that gift was what you were about to say to them? What if tables were turned? Before you say that next sentence, ask yourself, “Would I want to receive these words in a gift?”
In reality, you may never say anything the masses take up as a mantra and pass on from generation to generation. Then again, maybe you will. However, if you remove things not worth repeating from your speech and follow these three guidelines, you may be surprised to find out the great impact you have in the lives of others. At least you will have the peace and joy of knowing that what you say is worth repeating whether or not anybody ever does.