Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Art of Restraint

by Danetta Kellar @DanettaKellar

When words abound, transgression is inevitable, but the one who restrains his words is wise. -Proverbs 10:19

I heard it once said that we are captain only of the words we do not say. Once they have been spoken, they are irretrievable. They go forth with a mysterious power, the might to either create or destroy, beautify or mar, encourage or discourage. In God’s image we are made, and our God made the world with His words. We would be wise to measure our own words and the power they unleash.
We cannot create trees, animals, water or sky with our words. Try it sometime and see how you fare. Stand in your backyard and declare with all your might “Let there be lush, green grass!”

We can, however, create life with the words we speak. We can send forth the pulse of living, breathing hope into another human being and watch it grow beautiful and strong. We can pick up the pieces of broken lives with our words and rebuild them into restored places of joy.

We can at other times choose to be silent and allow silence to do its marvelous work of mercy and grace, allowing the quietness of reflection and conviction, determination and victory. Restraint gives birth to discernment, and discernment transforms our spoken words to instruments of grace and healing.

One who would speak words of grace and life would
do well to first learn the art of restraint.
One who would speak words of grace and life would do well to first learn the art of restraint. When we restrain our tongues, we learn to listen better. We notice things we once ignored in our torrent of speech, our desire to be heard. Our hearts become sensitive to the world of unspoken communication, the thousands of ways love, hope, frustration, despair, and need are expressed with no words at all. Our eyes are opened as our tongue remains silent.

The restraint of the tongue is a discipline and an impossible task without God’s help. James 3:9 tells us “…no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Herein lies our despair, and simultaneously our hope. No man can tame the tongue, but there is One who can. We can cry out with the Psalmist, O Lord, place a guard on my moth! Protect the opening of my lips! -141:3

The same One who created the heavens and the earth with the power of His words, comes to our aid, setting a guard at the gateway of our words. He will show us how to listen, when to speak, how to bring life to others through what we say.

Do you find it difficult to control your words? Do you have the desire to speak words of grace and kindness, but find yourself losing control, justifying your harsh words in the name of speaking the truth or standing up for yourself?  Is your heart often heavy because of the power of words, either received or given?

Lord, place a guard on our mouths. Protect the opening of our lips. Teach us the art of restraint, and the beauty of discerning speech that brings grace and healing to the hearer. Amen

The art of restraint - thoughts on #faith & life from @DanettaKellar on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Danetta Kellar is a writer, blogger, and speaker. Her interesting life has taken her around the globe, where she has had the privilege to witness firsthand the transformation of women from all walks of life and culture as they exchange lies for the Truth found in Christ. 

Her writing flows out of this rich experience and her own continual search for treasures in life’s darkness. Connect with Danetta online through her blog, Riches Out of Darkness, and on Facebook, or Twitter.   


  1. Well said, Danetta. Our words reveal the condition of our heart. I know that most all the damage I've done in life came from a selfish heart gushing cruel words. I also know from my sanctification journey that my words can be conduits to Christ's healing love. And you've expressed these truths excellently.

    Also, congratulations on your award at Blue Ridge.

    1. Thank you Bruce. I kept seeing you from far away and never got to tell you hello. God is always sanctifying us through our use of words, isn't He?

  2. I second Bruce's comments. My first inclination is to react--show 'em where they're wrong. I need to spend more time in that "world of unspoken communication."
    Thanks for your words of grace, Danetta.

    1. You know, Sam, that's my initial reaction too. God continues to teach me restraint. Thank you for reading and encouraging!

  3. Yes, yes, and yes. And when I decide to just listen, there is a remarkable calm feeling. When I decide to just listen and NOT plan my next statement, I really hear what someone else says. But, when I crouch at the ready to pounce on the very next tiny gap in conversation, I miss out on so much.
    And then, of course, there are the careless words. So so many do-overs... Thanks xoxox