The Voice in Speech and Song


Chapter 28—Discernment in Reproof

Message of Truth—If ever a people needed to walk before God as did Enoch, Seventh-day Adventists need to do so now, showing their sincerity by pure words, clean words, words full of sympathy, tenderness, and love. VSS 140.1

There are times when words of reproof and rebuke are called for. Those who are out of the right way must be aroused to see their peril. A message must be given that shall startle them from the lethargy which enchains their senses. Moral renovation must take place, else souls will perish in their sins. Let the message of truth, like a sharp, two-edged sword, cut its way to the heart. Make appeals that will arouse the careless and bring foolish, wandering minds back to God.—Testimonies for the Church 7:155. VSS 140.2

Reproof in Love—In seeking to correct or reform others we should be careful of our words. They will be a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. In giving reproof or counsel, many indulge in sharp, severe speech, words not adapted to heal the wounded soul. By these ill-advised expressions the spirit is chafed, and often the erring ones are stirred to rebellion. All who would advocate the principles of truth need to receive the heavenly oil of love. Under all circumstances reproof should be spoken in love. Then our words will reform but not exasperate. Christ by His Holy Spirit will supply the force and the power. This is His work.—Christ's Object Lessons, 337. VSS 140.3

So-Called Frankness, a Form of Selfishness—Some pride themselves on being outspoken, blunt, and rough, and they call this frankness; but it is not rightly named, it is selfishness of the deepest dye. These persons may have virtues; they may be liberal, and have kind impulses; but their discourteous manners render them almost insupportable. They criticize, they wound, they say disagreeable things. Will the character they are cultivating recommend them to Jesus? Will it fit them for the society of heaven? We do well to examine ourselves to see what manner of spirit we are cherishing. Let us learn to speak gently, quietly, even under circumstances the most trying. Let us control not only our words, but our thoughts and imaginations. Let us be kind, be courteous in our words and deportment. There is a great neglect in this respect.—The Review and Herald, April 29, 1884. VSS 141.1

Sour Christians—The good qualities which many possess are hidden, and instead of attracting souls to Christ they repulse them. If these persons could see the influence of their uncourteous ways and unkind expressions upon unbelievers, and how offensive is such conduct in the sight of God, they would reform their habits, for a lack of courtesy is one of the greatest stumbling blocks to sinners. Selfish, complaining, sour Christians bar the way, so that sinners do not care to approach Christ.—Our High Calling, 229. VSS 141.2

Hard Words—Hard words beat upon the heart through the ear, awakening to life the worst passions of the soul and tempting men and women to break God's commandments.—The Adventist Home, 439. VSS 142.1

The Correcting of Children—Harsh, angry words are not of heavenly origin. Scolding and fretting never help. Instead, they stir up the worst feelings of the human heart. When your children do wrong and are filled with rebellion, and you are tempted to speak and act harshly, wait before you correct them. Give them an opportunity to think, and allow your temper to cool.—Child Guidance, 246. VSS 142.2

Rude Angles and Rough Points—The sharp, rude angles and rough points in our character, the manifestations of selfishness in unkind words and actions, tear away the delicate fabric of human love and happiness.—The Review and Herald, July 18, 1893. VSS 142.3

Servants of the Wicked One—He who drinks in the spirit of Christ will let it flow forth in kind words, and be expressed in courteous deportment.... But those who profess the truth and at the same time are rough, and sour, and unkind in words and deportment, have not learned of Jesus; all these manifestations show that they are yet servants of the wicked one.—Our High Calling, 238. VSS 142.4

Education of Our Lips—Let us make a covenant with God that we will not speak one word of envy or unkindness. Let not your lips dishonor God by fretful words of complaint and dissatisfaction. Educate your lips to praise Him from whom all blessings flow.—The Review and Herald, May 1, 1888. VSS 143.1

Unnecessary Disputing—Unless some question of vital importance is involved, be ready to yield your own opinion rather than to create a dispute. Even though you may by argument gain your point, yet you may place a burden upon someone else, far outweighing the advantage you think you will gain. It is hard to heal the wounds caused by harsh words. VSS 143.2

Often you may preserve peace by guarding the tongue. Never introduce into your conversation matters that will create strife, hurting your own soul and the souls of others.—Manuscript 60, 1903. VSS 143.3

Hasty, Impatient Speech—In the use of language there is perhaps no error that old and young are more ready to pass over lightly in themselves than hasty, impatient speech. They think it a sufficient excuse to plead, “I was off my guard, and did not really mean what I said.” But God's Word does not treat it lightly. The Scripture says: “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” Proverbs 29:20. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Proverbs 25:28. VSS 143.4

In one moment, by the hasty, passionate, careless tongue, may be wrought evil that a whole lifetime's repentance cannot undo. Oh, the hearts that are broken, the friends estranged, the lives wrecked, by the harsh, hasty words of those who might have brought help and healing!—Education, 236, 237. VSS 144.1

A Well-Regulated Temper—It is the “soft answer” which “turneth away wrath.” Revenge has never conquered a foe. A well-regulated temper exerts a good influence on all around; but “he that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”—Testimonies for the Church 4:367, 368. VSS 144.2

Tirades and Swearing—A large share of life's happiness is dependent upon our manners and actions toward others. The sharp word must be left unspoken. The passionate words must be quenched in the love of Jesus Christ; for if this dross is not cleansed from the soul, there is no hope of eternal life. The selfish temper, and tirade of passionate words is placed in the same dark list with swearing.—Letter 6a, 1893. VSS 144.3

Evil Thinking and Speaking—There is nothing Christ needs so much as agents who feel the necessity of representing Him. Evilspeaking and evil-thinking are ruinous to the soul.—Manuscript 8a, 1888. VSS 144.4

No Words of Irritation—God desires your words to be life-giving. Not a word of irritation is to be spoken. However provoked you may feel, keep back every word that would stir up the evil in another heart. Speech is a great talent; and God desires every one of you to reach the standard of Christlikeness. Let every word you speak bless and elevate.—Manuscript 65, 1901. VSS 144.5

Criticism of Others—There is often a great temptation to talk of things which do not profit the speaker or the hearer, but which bring evil and barrenness to both. Our probationary time is too brief to be spent in dwelling upon the shortcomings of others.—Testimonies for the Church 4:135. VSS 145.1

Sanctified Lips—The truly converted man has no inclination to think or talk of the faults of others. His lips are sanctified, and as God's witness he testifies that the grace of Christ has transformed his heart.... Those only will enter heaven who have overcome the temptation to think and speak evil.—Sons and Daughters of God, 348. VSS 145.2

Today's Cannibals—Slanderous speeches, which is in truth cannibalism, will not be spoken by those who are feeding on that which is the Bread of Life, the Word of the living God, and delighting themselves on the marrow and fatness of God's exceeding great and precious promises. Through Jesus Christ the soul is in communion with the heavenly angels, and can have no desire to indulge in foolish chit-chat conversation, to sit at the table with slanderers (cannibals). Jesus Christ would have His children “laborers together with Him,” prayerful, kind, benevolent, and full of activity.—Letter 14a, 1893. VSS 145.3

Seeds of Suspicion and Distrust—Let those who fear God and believe the truth put a guard on their lips. Let them be determined not to speak words that will injure the cause of God, or give a wrong representation of the work being done in any of His institutions. Let them be careful not to speak words that will be a temptation to someone else to withhold the confidence and the words of courage that ought to be given to those who have been severely tried, and who, perhaps, have been working early and late to fulfill the many calls of duty coming to them, until it seems as if the mind would give way under the strain. Often, at such times, false impressions regarding such workers are made on minds by cruel words, full of surmisings. The seeds of suspicion and distrust, like thistledown, are carried far and wide, and can never be gathered up.—Manuscript 94, 1904. VSS 146.1

Words the Holy Spirit Can Approve—The love of God in the heart will always lead us to speak gentle words. “Charity (love) suffereth long and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth.” VSS 146.2

Shall we not remember this? If the love of God is in our hearts, we shall not think evil, we shall not be easily disturbed, we shall not give loose reign to passion, but we will show that we are yoked up with Christ, and that the restraining power of His Spirit leads us to speak words that He can approve. The yoke of Christ is the restraint of the Holy Spirit, and when we become heated by passion, let us say, No; I have Christ by my side, and I will not make Him ashamed of me by speaking hot, fiery words.—Manuscript 73, 1897. VSS 146.3