We all remember the childhood idiom, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. We all also understand that whoever came up with that little ditty was surely living in la-la land! The reality, of course, is that words are phenomenally powerful and impacting, either for blessing or for cursing. As we are told in James 3:5, with reference to the potency of our tongues, “see how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” God’s living and eternal Word has much to say about our words, and it would do us well to heed His instruction as we live in this verbally intensive world. What we say, and also how and why we say it, are profoundly significant, for as Jesus says, “…the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart” (Mt. 12:34).
This truth destroys every excuse we employ when we say things that dishonor God and hurt and damage others. Such cop-outs as “I didn’t mean to say that”, or “I’m just tired”, or “Oops, that slipped” betray the fact that we’ve said what we’ve said because that’s what was in our heart to say. Oh how we need the Spirit of God, working through the Word of God, to continually purify our hearts and lips for His glory and the benefit of others!
To that end, let me challenge you to memorize, pray over, and strive to obey the following passages concerning our words. There is certainly more Scripture has to say on this topic, but these passages have been most frequently impressed on my mind in my own growth regarding God-glorifying speech.
There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute.
He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances. Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…
May we increasingly and distinctively be known as a church that “speaks the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). May God give us much grace and strength to be wise, careful, appropriate, faithful, kind, gracious, gentle, and truthful in all of our speech with every person we interact with all the time.
Talk to you soon!