Think Before You Speak Part 1: The Problem With Venting

Photo Credit: Dan Pearce

At some point in time we’ve all heard it. “Think before you speak.” Often coupled with that saying is the old adage  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” By the way, I always find it fascinating when I realize how many of these popular phrases or sayings are based on Biblical principles. He may not always get the credit, but God sure knows what He’s talking about! Anyways, 😉 in my post, Anger Management, I said I’d be addressing the negative effect of harsh words.  With this being such a broad and important topic, I’ve decided to break it down into parts, with today’s focus being on venting

vent(vnt) n.

1. A means of escape or release from confinement; an outlet: give vent to one’s anger.

2. An opening permitting the escape of fumes, a liquid, a gas, or steam.

v. vent·ed, vent·ing, vents

1. To express (one’s thoughts or feelings, for example), especially forcefully.

2. To release or discharge (steam, for example) through an opening.

About a month ago I was speaking to a trusted confidante about an impending situation.  I was preparing to spend a great deal of time with someone who had a less than favorable opinion of me, and I was asking for her prayers. I knew better than to be anxious, but I was nervous and wanted to share some background information to give my friend a better understanding of the circumstances.  I spoke of the detailed accounts in which the person in question had hurt me or made me feel uncomfortable, but it wasn’t long before I stopped dead in my tracks.  Before continuing I asked her if the conversation was being productive, or was I merely venting?  You may find this to be an odd concern, because venting isn’t so bad right?  In fact many believe it’s a healthy necessity, and much better than the alternative of keeping one’s emotions bottled up.  Not too long ago I would’ve been in full agreement with this thought process, but that changed when God directed me to His Word:

Proverbs 29:11 (NKJV)

A fool vents all his feelings,
But a wise man holds them back.

Straightforward. Simple.  And it cut me to the bone like a razor-sharp two-edged swordI am not a fool, and I certainly don’t want my Father to think so!  But why does it say this? Are we really supposed to hold it all in, never having the opportunity to tell someone how we feel? Is that what the Lord wants and expects of us?  No, of course not!  We have every liberty in Christ to converse and grow with one another, informing each other of our thoughts and emotions. However, we are to do so using wisdom.

Proverbs 14:33

Wisdom rests in the heart of him who has understanding,
But what is in the heart of fools is made known.

You see, when we vent we are using neither wisdom nor self-control.  Based on the definition given above, we are forcefully letting off steam, which does nothing to benefit the speaker or the hearer.  Expressing yourself is healthy and encouraged, but once your words are no longer doing more than allowing you to dwell in your sorrow or continue to bad-mouth someone, it’s time to do a self-check and stop!! The best way to do this is to examine your motives.  Are you still talking because you have to get it out?  Is your purpose to ensure that the awful portrait you’ve painted of someone or some situation is ingrained in the minds of all those who would listen? Or maybe you just enjoy hearing the sound of your own voice.  Either way it goes, the focus should be on finding your Godly solution, rather than giving priority to the issue at hand.

In my earlier example I was told that I was not going overboard or venting about my problem.  Even still, I made a conscious decision to move on, because no scenario deserves more time and energy than I give my Lord and Savior!  I encourage you all to think before you speak, enjoy the answers God provides, and let go of the problems the world brings!!

Be blessed and stay tuned for Part 2: The Untamable Tongue