"If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."
A common enough aphorism, I'm sure. I know I've heard this one more times than I can say I always appreciated.
But as usual, it took me a long time to realize the full measure of wisdom in this saying (and chances are I still haven't got it all). Not only did it take a long time, it actually took some divine intervention.
As stated in previous posts, I am a girl. And as I am well aware, girls are very odd and often irrational creatures. And I'm about to tell you one of our greatest secrets.
We all hate each other.
Oh, sure, you may be my best friend, but you have nicer hair than me. You may be my sister, but WHY do you have such gorgeous eyes?
We can't stand not having all the beauty, talent, intelligence, humor, charm, and wit when obviously every other girl does.
We hate you.
Nevertheless, we will rain down compliments on you like nobody's business at every possible opportunity.
Because we hate you.
"Ohhhhh my gooooodnessss girlll!!!! I loooooveee your hairrr!!!"
"DEM EYES DOE"
"Can you just not? Please? Like...just no. Stop. Ugh."
Sadly, I think I'm guilty of all of those examples and more.
Now don't get me wrong - girls can compliment sincerely. But in general, we don't think through what we're saying enough to even be completely sure that we mean it.
I've been thinking a lot about sincerity lately and trying to be more careful about not paying compliments that I don't honestly mean.
So this brings me back to the original thought. Compliments are always good, yes? So what's the harm in paying a few not-entirely-sincere compliments?
I was reading through Psalms earlier (because I really think it would be very hard to read too many Psalms - they're good for my heart and mind) and I came across these verses:
Help, LORD; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men. They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. The LORD shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things. (Ps. 12)
See that line that I put in bold? Does that sound familiar at all?
Well, I don't know about you, but it sounds an awful lot like those insincere compliments I told you about. And it doesn't sound like God deals very kindly with people who do that.
Don't be insincere with your words.
Not only does that passage in Psalms tell us what we should not do, it gives us something to aim for (I love when the Bible is this clear).
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
This is the standard that we should hold ourselves to. So perhaps it's time we rephrase those wise words from earlier now that the Bible has shed some light on the situation.
"If you don't have anything good, true, and sincere to say, don't say anything at all."