Our words have great power and when they leave our mouths they take on a life of their own. With words we hurt and with words we heal. My mother always told me that “an angry word is not easily recalled, therefore, watch your words.” Listen to this quote about our words by Robert Brow,
“The other animals can communicate with each other. They growl, call for a mate, express alarm, sing for joy. Whales can apparently compose songs. Your dog can bark, beg for food, wag his tail, jump up to say he is glad to see you. But the human animal has a tongue with the power to create havoc in human relationships.”Sometimes because of our own fears, our own insecurities, our own prejudices, we speak words or give advice that is not in the recipient’s best interest, but are comfortable for us. Like the parents who discourage their children from ever going away to school because they are afraid of being alone, or the husband who discourages his wife from taking a class or from pursuing a dream because he’s afraid she’ll out grow him and leave or the teacher or mentor who discourages a student from pursuing a particular learning track because that student does not appear to “have what it takes.”
How many dreams have been shattered? How many potential leaders have been stopped short, how many great ideas have been snuffed out because someone poisoned another persons mind and caused them to lose hope. Our words can wreak havoc upon the minds of those who are the hearers.
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every season and purpose under the heavens. The scripture further tells us that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If our hearts are in line with the Holy Spirit of God, the Lord can and will help us to govern our speech. Our tongues will be transformed. Our words will be seasoned with the salt of grace and peace. We will learn how to tell the truth in love.
When our tongues have been transformed, we will pray daily, “Lord, set a watch over my mouth; guard the door of my lips." We will be patient and not just blurt the first thing that comes to our minds. We will be considerate, thoughtful and kind. We will refrain from expressing our ideas of what a person can and cannot do. Sometimes, it is best to allow a person to work things through on their own. Let them pursue their hopes and dreams, as long as it is not bringing hurt or damage to the family or the community. Sometimes we may not recognize all that God has placed within them. Sometimes we are the stumbling block to a person’s success because we have filled their mind with all of the reasons why they can’t succeed.
Why are our words so damaging? Why are we so negative or critical? Sometimes, as one commentator puts it, “it’s because our parents may have earned graduate degrees in negativity while raising us!” Sometimes we subconsciously criticize others as a way of building up ourselves. But what ever the reason, we are doing so at a great price – the hearts, minds and emotions of others.
Now there are some people whose constitutions are of such that no matter who tells them they cannot make it, they determine that they can. There are some people who take negative comments as a challenge and use it to motivate them to move forward. But everyone is not like that. Some people are crushed by negative and excessively critical comments. The phrase, “stick and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” is a lie. Names have broken many a spirit. Words have battered many a soul. Constant criticism has pummeled many a person’s esteem.
James chapter 3: 1-13 in the New Testament says the following about the tongue…
Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers. You know that we who teach will be judged more severely. 2 All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn't make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. 3 We put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we have control over everything they do. 4 The same thing is true for ships. They are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go. 5 In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things. A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame. 6 The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell. 7 People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures. 8 Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison. 9 With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God's likeness. 10 Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! 11 Do clean and polluted water flow out of the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? In the same way, a pool of salt water can't produce fresh water.The good news is that you can change the course of your words today. Today you can ask God to show you how to speak words of encouragement and hope. The first step is to examine your heart. Jesus taught that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
13 Do any of you have wisdom and insight? Show this by living the right way with the humility that comes from wisdom
If we want to have a transformed tongue, we must first ask the Lord to change our hearts to reflect His heart. We must as ourselves, “is this something Jesus would say to another person?” We must as ourselves, “what are we hoping to accomplish by making this comment? Is there another, healthier, more wholistic and positive way to say what I am trying to say to this person?” “Is this comment necessary at this time?” Do they truly need this bit of advice from me?
There will be times when our words, no matter how kind will hurt… truth can hurt. But when we speak God’s words of truth to people, the hurt will eventually produce healing – like surgery. It hurts, it takes time to heal, but when it heals we are made whole.
The goal of our advice, our words fitly spoken should be to bring deliverance, to bring healing, to bring hope, to build up, never to tear down.
How are your words? Who have you encouraged? Who are you discouraging by your words? God said that we will give an account for every idle word we utter. Let us pray today to have a transformed tongue. Pray that our words will be seasoned with the salt of God’s truth, mercy, grace and love – words that give life and not death, words that give help and not hurt – words that set free and don’t bind – words that reflect the heart and mind of Jesus Christ. Amen.
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,