Having my say…or not

“In old days the public didn’t really mind much about accuracy, but nowadays readers take it upon themselves to write to authors on every possible occasion, pointing out flaws.”

Agatha Christie (1890-1976)

I don’t know when the “old days” were for Agatha Christie, but she certainly lived long enough to encounter what not only authors, but what anyone who posts on social media, can experience.

When I was younger (and less wise), I responded swiftly to anything I felt was “wrong”. I was certain everyone wanted to hear my opinion. And not only did I repeat it until they agreed, I badgered them until they acknowledged they were bowled over by my wit. My insight. My overwhelming intelligence.

I’ve since learned I’m not “all that”. (Through lessons doled out in painful circumstances when I expressed my opinion inappropriately).

My attitude has shifted from “I must have my say and since I’m right, everyone needs to hear it.” to… “Should I give my perspective? And why should I do that?”

For me, the short answer is: only after I have listened.

And not just to my own logic, or my friends’ logic, even though all of those may be sound – and sound right.

I need to listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. And if I’m talking and reasoning and discussing, then I’m not listening.

I need to start by asking God the following things, and then waiting for the answer.

Is what I want to say the truth (based on God’s word), or is it just my opinion?

God had His “say” in the scriptures. And if He doesn’t help me understand them, then I’m not in a position to speak that to anyone else. And even when I do, I need to speak in terms of WHY I’m interpreting that truth in the way I am.

Will what I say be helpful or harmful to others? Also, will it harm me because I’m not being what God wants me to be?

If I speak the truth in a condemning way, it harms. And God isn’t in the business of condemnation. The Holy Spirit convicts cleanly. Without shaming the person. God paid EVERYTHING to have a relationship with each person He created. And I can’t bear the thought of saying something in a way that separates them from knowing God loves them, and all He wants is for them to come to Him.

And obviously, if I’m judgmental and shaming and condemning to others, my spirit is cut off from Him as well.

A terrible deal for everyone.

Does God really want me to say it?

If I can’t hear the still, small voice telling me to speak, I need to be quiet.

And if I hear Him telling me not to speak, oh boy, do I ever need to keep my trap shut then. For me, that’s one of the hardest things I have to do because I want to have my say.

I sometimes forget that I’m not the only messenger God has – or the only mechanism He has created to get His point across to people.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 139:16 “All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”

It applies here. God may want me to keep silent because He has lovingly planned for someone else to say it. Someone whose words can reach the exact people God intended.

God planned all of my days, as He did for everyone else. Which means, I’m not the only one who’ll deliver His messages.

But I am the one He has ordained to deliver the messages He wants me to deliver.

If His answer is “Don’t say anything.”, the only Person I need to keep talking to is God. And do the most divine thing anyone can do for anyone else – pray for them – instead of saying what I think.

I still express my opinion too much, so I need all the suggestions I can get to help avoid it when I should stay quiet.

What do you do before you express your opinion?

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Joni Vance is an award-winning author of fiction, essay, and poetry. She loves mystery, history, and how God reveals Himself every day.

May God reveal the mystery of His love in your life story.  

4 thoughts on “Having my say…or not

  1. Hi Joni,
    I love all the changes that you have seen over the years as God has shown you how to make wise comments. I think that needs to be the goal for all of us, right? Wise comments.The book of James is my favorite, with all the verses about taming the tongue. Sometimes I just ask God to help control my tongue:), in any given situation. – Jane

  2. Great advice Joni! My favorite option is one you listed–listening. I try to listen more than talk. Works most of the time, but at the same time sometimes I miss the opportunity to get into the conversation because I wait too long. Thanks for posting.

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