the good way

Simplicity of Speech

Session 4 • Simplicity & generosity • Activation

When we begin reflecting on Simplicity and Generosity, it is worthwhile paying attention to our speech. The tongue is a very small part of the body and yet, as we read in James 3, it can cause great damage.

“With our tongue we give thanks to our Father in heaven. And with our tongue we speak bad words against men who are made like God. Giving thanks and speaking bad words come from the same mouth. My Christian brothers, this is not right! Does a well of water give good water and bad water from the same place? Can a fig tree give olives or can a grape-vine give figs?”

Spend some time reflecting on how you’ve spoken today. Again, try to hold this with grace and acceptance. You might find it helpful to reflect on these questions, which are not designed to condemn but simply to provoke thoughtful reflection:

  • How often have you spoken words of complaint versus words of gratitude, or expressions of appreciation?
  • How often have you spoken well of someone versus spoken in a dishonoring way?
  • What role has exaggeration played in your speech? Maybe even reflect on the use of phrases, like ‘this is killing me,’ or ‘I’m starving.’
  • How often have you shared information about someone else that you wouldn’t have shared if that person were present? (gossip)
  • How often have you spoken untruths today (either about yourself or others)?
  • What role did boasting or bragging (even the humble brag) have in my conversation today?
  • Where have you perhaps said ‘yes to something that you actually wanted to say ‘no’ to?
  • In what ways have you used your speech to manipulate others to get what you want? (Flattery, story spinning, half truths etc)
  • How often have you used bad language?
  • How generous was I today in my encouragement or edification of another human being?
  • How much have you listened to others versus dominated conversation?
  • When have you spoken insensitively to someone else?

In Luke 6:45, Jesus says:

“The mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Spend some time in quiet reflection before God. Sit under the loving gaze of God, knowing that he receives you with grace. Hold before him all that you’ve noticed about yourself and invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you. What is God drawing your attention to? Is there some invitation he is giving you to simplifying your speech?

You may have heard this old saying: ‘Speak only if it improves upon the silence.’ What would it look like to embrace this today?

Saying yes or no

So often we say yes when we actually want to say no. Sometimes we do this with good intentions - we don’t want to offend, we want to be polite, we are considering the other person’s feelings, but over time we can become resentful, angry, overcommitted and exhausted if we always say ‘yes’ out od duty or obligation.

If we want to be people who honor the limits of our body, we have to discern which things are the ‘yes’ things in our life and which things are the ‘no’ things. We also have to learn to say no in a loving, yet confident way. If you are unsure, it is always helpful to ask for a little time to reflect so that you can make the best decision.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” Matthew 5:33-37

View other resources for this session