Consider this statement: “Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it meanly.” Those who take pride in truthfulness often miss this point.

It certainly is praiseworthy to mean what we say and say what we mean but all too often we say it in a mean way.

We need to be kind and gentle in what we say. Paul tells us how he treated those he loved even though he did say what he meant. “But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children.”

Paul told Timothy, “The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” Paul continued, “Those who oppose him, he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.”

So gentleness and kindness are the watchwords as we say what we mean. It is important we are kind even to those who oppose us.

Dogs and very young babies do not have a clue as to what some of the words we say mean, but they certainly understand the tone of our voice. They know when we are loving and when we are being unkind, not by the words but by the way the words are said.

It is even possible to say a loving phrase in an unloving way. The words, “I love you,” can be said with tenderness, but it is also possible to say these exact words in a mean way. “I love you?” can be said harshly as a question to convey the meaning, “Why should you think I love you?”

It is amazing how many husbands and wives talk to each other with cutting words in harsh tones. Sometimes we speak to those we love in a way that we would never use when speaking to total strangers. This ought not to be.

We need to speak friendly to each other. We can say what we mean, but never say what we mean in a mean way.

Boaz spoke to Ruth in a friendly way. She was grateful and replied, “Let me find favour in thy sight, my lord; for that thou hast comforted me, and for that thou hast spoken friendly unto thine handmaid.”

It is not always what we say but the way we say it. Let us make sure that when we say what we mean, we don’t say it meanly. Paul gives us the proper approach when he tells us, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

Robert J. Lloyd

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