If You Can’t Say Anything Nice
Have you ever heard “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?” Why would we think that just because something may be true it should be said?
While there are many ways to speak the truth, we need to temper what is said with love, patience and kindness. I am often torn in whether to speak the truth or just keep my mouth shut.
As a mother, it may often seem easier to not say, do, respond when our children do something wrong. However, we should not let bad habits, actions or patterns continue if we expect our children to grow up to love the Lord, and follow his teaching.
Ephesians 4:15 “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ”
So when do we decide that speaking the truth is more important than minding our own business? Personally, I start by looking at the relationship I have with the person.
~ Are they someone in my life that I wish to maintain a relationship?
~ Are they someone who I am just getting to know?
~ Are they someone who I am trying to share the Gospel with or reach out to help in any other area?
Being careful to understand that others will make different choices in the same circumstance, I try to look to scripture for guidance; also taking into consideration the subject matter that is bothering me. Is it just differences in how something is done? Does this issue risk the other person’s eternity? Or is it just that I think it could be done in a better, faster, more efficient manner? We need to be careful that feeling we need to speak the truth isn’t just cover for us wanting to show off ourselves.
Perhaps these filters will help to determine what and how we can approach the truth:
Ask yourself a couple of questions about what you are going to say:
Is it True?
Is it Helpful?
Is it Inspiring?
Is it Necessary?
Is it Kind?
If you decide you must share your opinion, make sure to let the listener know that it is just that, your opinion. Be as open to his feedback as you expect him to be to yours.
My mother used to remind us as children… “If you can’t say anything nice, sit by me!” Now, while I can laugh about the statement; her reasoning was to allow us to voice our thoughts and questions in private. She could then explain why we were mistaken or help us to find a better way to present our thought or opinion. It probably kept her from having to correct or apologize for our actions too!
So while we teach our children to always be honest…we also need to teach them to temper what they say within that honesty. Often it is more in the way we say it versus the words we use.