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Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Eph 4:25-32).
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! (Ps 141:3-4).
The wise of heart is called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death (Prov 16:21-25).
A man goes into a job interview at a big bank for a high-ranking job. He shares openly about his strengths and weaknesses, nails every question given him about banking and being an executive. This guy obviously knows how to bank and how to run an institution.
How is he dressed? How is his hair? Does he have a beard—or any other facial hair? How does he smell? How does he shake hands? When listening to his interviewers, where are his eyes? How is his posture?
He’s probably dressed in a suit. He probably has short hair, no facial hair, and is overall well-groomed. He probably is wearing a nice cologne, shakes hands firmly, maintains eye contact with his interviewers, and sits up straight.
Why is this?
Because he wants to communicate to his interviewers that he takes this interview seriously. He wants them to see that he is the right candidate for the job. He wants them to see that he can take care of himself and represent their bank well.
Everything about him is telling his interviewers: “I want this job, and I’m the right person for it.”
Would they get that message if he had come in sweats and an old t-shirt? If he hadn’t showered in a few days, nor brushed his teeth, nor shaved? If he slouched and was always looking at his phone? He might say the exact same things the exact same way, but the message received will be entirely different.
Everything you do—and do not do—is communication. The way you dress, the way you maintain your appearance, the way you talk—not just the words you say, but your tone, and the things you left unsaid—what you do, what you look at, and on and on and on: all these things communicate things about you to anyone who might be paying attention.
In situations like job interviews, you’re much more conscious of it. You dress for success.
But what are you communicating when you’re not at a job interview?
What are you communicating when you show up to places late? Usually, you are communicating that you do not value that appointment—nor the people there, and especially their time—as much as other things. Because that’s the message people get when you show up late: you didn’t bother to make them a priority.
What are you communicating when you dress sexily? This isn’t just a question for ladies; guys do it, too. People immediately protest, “I should be able to dress however I want without–” and that’s right, in an ideal world, yes. But if you dress like you want to get laid, don’t be surprised when people think you want to get laid.
And before anyone gets any ideas: no, this does not validate sexual assault at all. It doesn’t mean it’s the victim’s fault when someone assaults him or her. Ever. There is no excuse for sexual assault or harassment.
All I’m saying is, be conscious of what you are communicating, that it’s what you actually want them to pick up. If you don’t want to have sex, you probably shouldn’t dress like you want to have sex because that’s what you’re communicating. Just like you don’t show up late if you want to communicate to people that you value them.
If you don’t think gossip is sinful (and it is; it’s slander), then you probably shouldn’t listen to gossip. Because if you listen to gossip, you communicate that you value it. Do not eat of the delicacies of the wicked, because then you are participating in their wickedness!
Those five proverbs all tie in with this very well:
Grow in wisdom and be discerning in all you do, and communicate to people that you value them.
Use good sense in the things you do, and be careful that you do not teach—nor listen to—folly.
Be judicious in all that you communicate (and remember: everything is communication) and people will understand you much clearer.
Be gracious in your communication and you will build up yourself and others.
Examine the things you do—especially the unconscious things, like eye contact or, for many people how you dress—to see whether it is truly what is good and Godly, or if it’s something that is leading you to ruin.