God Used a Silent Mockingbird to Teach Me Six Biblical Speech Lessons

God Used a Silent Mockingbird to Teach Me Six Biblical Speech Lessons

God used a mockingbird who didn’t sing to teach me a gentle lesson about wise speech. The bird flew from a neighbor’s yard and perched on our holly bush. Wrens, cardinals, and sparrows serenaded the day, but the mockingbird turned her head from side to side as if listening intently then flew away.

A few moments later she returned, perched on a hydrangea bush, and trilled her song as if she had an important message to convey.

How like this wise bird I want to be—not chirping and squawking constantly as soon as I arrive on a scene. I want to listen thoughtfully and wait for the right moment to share as God leads.

Confession: I’m a talker. I talk to family and friends. I talk to strangers in stores and elevators. And I talk to myself.

Sometimes I say too much. My intentions are good, but I realize the listeners don’t need to know all that I know—or think I know—about life and how to solve their problems. The gift of a listening ear speaks volumes.

The gift of a listening ear speaks volumes. Click To Tweet

How often do we offer advice or interject our experience before a friend or co-worker finishes sharing her plight? I for one, need to listen and pray for wisdom before responding. What about you? God expects believers to share the gospel and encourage each other with words, but when we listen to Him before we speak, our words are more effective.

opened book selective focus photography

The psalmist penned a prayer to help us.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 ESV

As always, the Bible provides wisdom for all aspects of our walk with Christ, including our words. Let’s consider the following verses God used to help me evaluate my speech.

Six Biblical Speech Lessons

1. Avoid the “clanging cymbal” speech and speak with love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  

1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV

2. Listen and wait before you talk.

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.

James 1:19 ESV

3. Consider the timing. 

. . . a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.

Ecclesiastes 3:7 ESV

4. Choose edifying words.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 4:29 ESV

5. Season your speech with grace.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Colossians 4:6 ESV

6. Select words carefully.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Proverbs 25:11 ESV

I’m thankful God used the silent mockingbird to teach me about biblical speech. I want my words to be like “apples of gold in a setting of silver.”

Here’s an encouraging word about our words:

Our speech can offer praise to God, share the gospel of Christ, console a hurting friend with the comfort God gives us (2 Corinthians 1:3-5), share wise counsel, express gratitude, and assure a friend of our prayers. What a blessing to use the gift of words for God’s glory and the good of others.

What a blessing to use the gift of words for God’s glory and the good of others. Click To Tweet

Now it’s your turn to “talk.” Please share your thoughts about how we can honor God and encourage others with our speech. How has someone encouraged you with their words?

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36 thoughts on “God Used a Silent Mockingbird to Teach Me Six Biblical Speech Lessons

  1. “God expects believers to share the gospel and encourage each other with words, but when we listen to Him before we speak, our words are more effective. ” What an important lesson that I, as a fellow talker, always need to be reminded of. The next time I hear birds I hope I’ll remember your mockingbird story and follow its example.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Leigh, I hope I remember, too, when listening to the birds. Those of us who talk a lot may have a more difficult time slowing down to listen, but our gracious heavenly Father continues to teach us, doesn’t He? I appreciate your encouraging words.

  2. Listen before speaking. Sometimes words are not needed. Listening and hearing are vital to every relationship. Great message Jeanne.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you, Melissa. “Listen before speaking,” is simple yet wise advice. You’re right that words are not always required. I’m glad you reminded us of the vital need to listen and hear what the other person in a relationship is saying.

  3. I love the way the Lord speaks to us through nature. Your post shows me that you are a quiet soul who watches and listens. As Christians, we may not realize the power we possess in the words we speak. Your post provides us, quite wisely, with instructions and scriptures to help us bring wisdom into our communications with God and others. Thank you, you’ve blessed me this morning.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Carla, I’m thankful God used the post to bless you. I’m blessed by your comments. You remind us we don’t always realize the power in our words–whether they’re harmful or helpful, spoken in haste or after God guides us. Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the discussion.

  4. What a good word to ponder. I must remind myself in the fast paced world in which we live to slow down and truly listen to the heart of others rather than begin formulating my response before they even finish. Thank you for this reminder!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jana, thank you so much for this statement: ” I must remind myself in the fast paced world in which we live to slow down and truly listen to the heart of others rather than begin formulating my response before they even finish.” Brilliant! When we “listen to the heart of others,” we learn so much and give God time to speak to our hearts. I hope I remember your advice.

  5. Thank you, Jeannie, for these verses. I know that I need to be reminded often to rein in my mouth. I am especially encouraged when a friend points out something God is doing in my life or the world that I had not yet noticed.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Oh, yes, Annie. What a blessing when a friend uses words to share the work of God they see. I’m glad you mentioned that vital use of our words. As I wrote in the post, I need reminders, too. It’s so easy to speak too quickly, but I’m thankful God reminds us and gives us lessons in His Word. I appreciate you reading and commenting.

  6. Jimmie+Annette+Ballard

    Thank you for this reminder. I needed to read this and I hope I will not forget.
    Such a blessing to read about the birds.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I’m glad God used the post to bless you, Jimmie. He’s taught me so many lessons while I watch birds. I, too, need this reminder. I appreciate your comments.

  7. Important lessons and reminders you drew from the Bible about our speech. Your post is something I should start each day with. Thank you, Jeannie

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Thank you for your kind words, Candyce. Your comments reminded me to print the verses for a quick reference. I appreciate you stopping by.

  8. I can be impulsive with my words. I don’t always think before I speak. I think that is why God gives us so many scriptures about our words. They do have power and we must learn to harness that power and direct it the right way–toward encouragement and not tearing down. Thanks for the list of scriptures, Jeannie. These are some I rely on too.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      You shared a great truth about words, Barbara: “They do have power and we must learn to harness that power and direct it the right way–toward encouragement and not tearing down.” Your choice of the words “harness” and “direct” create a picture we need to remember. Thanks so much.

  9. Amen, you wrote directly to my heart Ms. Jeannie. So often, my introverted self feels I have to compensate for others in our life group who choose to remain silent and not fully engage. A great lesson learned is that they’re not there to hear me but to hear God. To do that, sometimes I need to listen instead of speaking. God’s blessings ma’am.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      J. D., thank you for sharing an important reminder when we’re in groups: “A great lesson learned is that they’re not there to hear me but to hear God.” I often feel the need to fill in the silence in groups as you mentioned. Sometimes that’s helpful, but at other times, I need to remain silent. I’m sure you’d agree the key is listening to the Holy Spirit for direction. I appreciate your comments.

  10. Such a wonderful and inspiring message, Jeannie. I’ve been working on this for a lifetime. Thankfully, our gracious and loving God has helped me on this journey of becoming a good listener and sharing words of love and grace. But I’m still a work in progress. Thank you for sharing helpful Scripture to guide us, and encouragement to take the steps to be more loving in our speaking and listening.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I’m a work in progress, too, Katherine and also thankful He helps us. His Word reminds us of former lessons and teaches us new ones.I appreciate your kind words.

  11. Ah, Jeannie, I’m right there with you! I often talk to much to others and to myself too! Your advice is perfect, especially to listen and wait before speaking. I’m going to try to remember your silent mockingbird next time I’m tempted to jump in too soon.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Kathy, like you, I hope to remember the mockingbird lesson, too. Sometimes I feel compelled to respond quickly, but I’m learning to pray before conversations and listen to the Lord. I’m thankful for His forgiveness when I fail and for the fact He continues to teach us. I appreciate your comments, Kathy.

  12. Oh, my, you must have thought long and hard before you shared these words, Jeannie. They are spot on. Lord, help me apply them to every word I say, for your glory.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I’m experienced at asking God to forgive me for words spoken too quickly, therefore I needed a review lesson and thought readers would find them helpful. I also wanted to focus on the ways God allows us to use our words to honor Him. Thank you, Lori for taking time to read and comment.

  13. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Thank you for your encouraging post, focusing on our words, their power and influence. I absolutely love birds and will surely think of this post and it’s lessons as I bird watch.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Dawn, I pray that verse often. I’m thankful you found the post encouraging and appreciate the way you reminded us of “the power and influence of our words.”

  14. I am getting better at this, but always have room for improvement. Thank you for sharing the scriptures and these great reminders. We validate people so much more in our listening than we do with our words.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Jennifer, thank you for adding this thought-provoking statement: “We validate people so much more in our listening than we do with our words.” I have room for improvement, too. I’m thankful God continues to forgive us and teach us.

  15. May our words honor God and bless others. Great post! God bless.

  16. Thank you for this. God’s timing is always right. Thankful to be getting better at keeping my mouth closed and my ears open. A life-long struggle for me. Good, good words!

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Debra, it’s a struggle for me, too. I’m sure that’s why God reminded me of this lesson. Thank you so much for your comments and for the reminder that “God’s timing is always right.”

  17. I confess I needed this today Jeannie. My mouth has been running away with me recently. I pray that I can put this wisdom into practice.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      Terri, I’m asking God to help me with this, also. I also want Him to apply wisdom to my daily life. Thank you so much for taking time to read and comment on an issue many of us face.

  18. Jeannie, I really loved this post. Thank you so much. This is something my husband and I often speak about, and you nailed it. I still have so far to go! Thanks for the encouragement.

    • Post Author Jeannie Waters

      I still need the lesson, too, Sylvia. It’s so easy to react and speak too quickly. I’m glad God reminded me of the many ways we can use our speech for Him. I’m thankful you found the post encouraging, and I appreciate you letting me know.

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