“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Did you ever hear this bit of untruth? The truth is broken bones will heal in a matter of months but people spend a lifetime trying to heal from wounds made with words. Words go into our hearts and spirits. Words are burned into our memories and accepted as truth. Words have the power to break up friendships, destroy marriages, wound children, split churches, ruin reputations and careers and rob of us joy. Words also have the power to heal marriages, restore friendships and give hope.
“The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
“And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:6 (NLT)
Wow! The tongue has power. Not really the tongue but our words. Words matter. Concerning words, Proverbs says they are: a life-giving fountain, wise, like sterling silver, encouraging to many, helpful, beneficial, healing, able to stand the test of time, able to keep you safe, a tree of life, like honey, like deep waters, satisfying, more valuable than gold or jewels and God delights in them. Note these are the sincere words of the godly. Proverbs points out that “smooth words may hide a wicked heart…People may cover their hatred with pleasant words, but they’re deceiving you.” 26:23-24 Trying to fake it by saying certain words isn’t the answer. The words must come from a sincere heart. Speaking of godless words, Proverbs says they: destroy friends, are like a murderous ambush, trap the speaker, are soon exposed, make tempers flare, crush the spirit, are evil, create trouble, are destructive, get you into constant quarrels, stir up trouble, hate the victim and their flattery causes ruin.
Jesus said this about words, “It is not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth…But the words you speak come from the heart-that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying and slander.” Matthew 15:11,18-19 (NLT) Words come from our hearts. We need to check where our heart is at if we are struggling with using hurtful words. I think that using negative words can also be a habit. Something we do without thinking. It can be self-indulgent. Sometimes I am too focused on myself to see the person in front of me who needs an encouraging word. It is amazing how a few, simple words can help. I have been encouraged because someone said, “I am thinking about you.” Or, “I am praying for you.”
What can we do to be more intentional with life-giving words? Take a couple of days to just be aware of the words you speak. How often are you complaining, gossiping or speaking words that tear others down? If you speak encouraging words to someone, notice their reaction. Does it seem to make a difference? Spend time meditating on God’s word. Ask Him to change your heart so your words will be sincere. Ask Him to help you to stop before you speak and make a choice to speak life-giving words. Maybe memorize some of the scriptures mentioned. Make this verse your prayer:
“May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
I love this song by TobyMac! Please listen to the lyrics and ask God to speak to you. “Speak Life”