We had a guest speaker at church yesterday. He had a good word for all of us. This was not a new word - but always a good one. He spoke about the tongue - the power of our words for good or for evil. As he put it, we all carry a concealed weapon!
The average person speaks 16,000 words a day. That is a lot of opportunity! We always have a choice as to what we do with our words - we can choose hasty words, harsh words, hurtful words, words of gossip, critical words and words that are less than truthful! We can also choose thankful words, loving words, encouraging words and kind words.
What's the key to choosing our words carefully?
"Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34
So the key seems to be the condition of our heart. When we get jostled, what spills out is truly what resides within us. Sometimes - it is not so good! Always a red flag as to my spiritual condition. We not only need to "walk the talk" but we also need to "talk the walk!" Our words, our actions and our faith need to line up. Our lives must be a consistent picture of Jesus to those around us.
"The words of the wise bring healing." Proverbs 12:18
We can choose to use our words to wound others. It is easy, actually. Critical, sarcastic and judgmental words seem to flow out easily - even effortlessly. We have to choose for our words to bring healing. We have to listen more, choose our words deliberately and carefully and generally speak less! I never cease to be amazed at how powerful a good word is to one who is wounded. It can literally turn their life around.
"But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger." James 1:19
Too often - I get those mixed up! We tend to be quick to speak rather than quick to hear. I have been learning to just be quiet more often - to really listen and think before I say anything. I have also learned that it is okay to just be quiet. Every thought does not have to escape my lips and every comment does not necessitate a response.
"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." Ephesians 4:29
"The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; the one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." Proverbs 13:3
We can not do this on our own! It is impossible to tame the tongue without the power of the Holy Spirit! We need to lean into the Lord and rely on Him for every word that comes out of our mouth. We need to be aware of situations where we know we are at risk to join in on gossip or criticism. We need to continually ask the Lord to show us the good in every situation and every person. Is it challenging? Yes! It it impossible? No - but only because of the power of our Almighty God.
This Christmas season - you could give no greater gift than the gift of encouraging words. On that gift tag, include a word of blessing. In that Christmas card, include a word of thanks or encouragement. What if when you hand someone a gift, you hand them a word of blessing also. Wow - what a difference we could make. Let's do it!!!