Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems Chapter 12 – The Matter of Conversation

Serial Reading of Young People’s Problems

Chapter 12 – The Matter of Conversation

“Most young people can talk. They begin it quite early. One of the first things a baby does is to learn a language, meanwhile acquiring the use of its vocal organs. From that time, until the voice is silenced in death — the talking goes on. Some people even talk in their sleep, so strong is the force of habit upon them. If every word that is spoken were only a graciousword — then what an incalculable ministry of blessing would there be in a lifetime of speech!

Thus does JR Miller opens the next chapter. He continues, “Plant blessings — and blessings will bloom. Plant hate — and hate will grow; you can sow today — and tomorrow shall bring the bloom that shows what sort of a thing is the seed — the seed that you sow.”

Pastor Miller sets forth his exhortation under two headings.

First, “there should be great care taken, first of all, with the MANNER of speech. Many people speak important words, words full of wisdom — and yet utter them in such a manner that they make almost no impression.” Research shows that 60-90% of communication is nonverbal — not the words themselves. Much of our communication comes from intonation and body language. As the adage says, actions speak louder than words. Miller’s comments regarding the manner of speech are very helpful.

Second, the MATTER of speech is important as well. “We must have something to say,” writes Miller, and we must be careful what that is; “a bitter heart cannot give out sweet words, nor can an impure heart speak wholesome, pure words.” As Scripture says, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34).

Miller addresses the issue of “idle words” — “empty of love and of good, words of no value.” He calls us to “the kind of speech that is worthy of a redeemed life,” which is “graceful speech, not merely as to its manner — but also as to its quality.” He reminds us also of the biblical metaphor of seasoning salt: “Love is salt. Truth is salt. Our speech should be always kindly. It should be without bitterness, without malice, without unlovingness in any form. Some people use pepper instead — and pepper is sharp, biting, pungent…full of sarcasm, of censure, of bitterness, of words that hurt and burn. This is not Christlike speech.”

He warns that “We learn most of our lessons at home. The household life leaves its stamp on the character and the habits of each member of the family.” It is “important, therefore, that in the daily life of the household, the most careful watch shall be kept over all the habits of speech.”

In Miller’s concluding thoughts, he says, “Too much stress cannot be put upon this subject. Speech is golden in its opportunities; it is a pity that a grain of the precious gold should ever be thrown away.” Read the full chapter and benefit from its wisdom:


Chapter 13 – On Keeping Quiet

(to be continued…)