Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. Mother Teresa’s advice resonates more than ever in a world where civility seems to be vanishing and hateful speech is becoming the accepted norm.
Now more than any other time in my life that I can remember, I am aware of the need to think before I speak, to hold my tongue when I want to lash out in anger, and to let my words lift someone up instead of tear them down. I am cognizant of the need to let my speech reflect the love of Jesus in my heart.
What is in the heart comes out the mouth. Matthew 12:34
Bestselling books have been written about the connection between what we think and what we do or say. Two I have enjoyed reading are The Power of Positive Thinking, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maxwell Maltz. Both tell exactly how our thoughts are manifested, not only for our actions, but also for our success or failure.
We need look no further than the greatest book of all, the BIBLE, to find instructions on the power of our thoughts and the words we say. Look to the Old Testament and King Solomon for this wisdom:
The tongue has power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21
In the New Testament, the disciple James wrote clear instructions about the enormous impact of the tongue and how Christians should guard it.
All of us often go wrong; the man who never says a wrong thing is a perfect character, able to bridle his whole being. If we put bits into horses’ mouths to make them obey our will, we can direct their whole body. Or think of ships; large they may be, yet even when driven by strong gales they can be directed by a tiny rudder on whatever course the helmsman chooses. So with the tongue. It is a small member but it can make huge claims. James 3:2-5
Read James 3: 2-12 to discover more of his wise counsel regarding the power of the tongue.
This tiny muscular organ is capable of inflicting untold harm. Dear reader, if you were in my Sunday School class along with the adorable two-to-six-year-old cherubs I teach, I would say, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been hurt by something someone said to you or about you.” They would all raise their tiny hands. Probably every person reading this blog would raise a hand.
I’m passionate about this subject, particularly since I recently experienced the hurtful fallout from a vicious tongue. A month ago, I had surgery to repair an abdominal hernia. After my surgeon told me I would be helpless for at least three days afterward, unable to even lift myself out of bed, I enlisted the help of a woman I considered a friend. She promised to stay with me a couple of days during the early recovery process, but then backed out of her commitment the day she was to come, while I was still helpless. Her excuses were vague and rang false. I later learned that the harmful, wagging tongue of a person she and I both know had convinced the woman that she should NOT help me, that it was not her responsibility. Fortunately, I have a large group of true friends who stepped into the gap after my son had to head back to Florida for work. They took wonderful care of me when I was literally flat on my back. By the grace of God and with the help of family and true friends, I have recovered and am getting stronger every day.
In addition to knowing how to guard the tongue, we should also know how to use it for good. The Psalmists (especially King David) and the Apostle Paul are very specific on this subject.
“May all that I say and think be acceptable to thee, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm:19:14
“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth. Keep watch at the door of my lips. Turn not my heart to sinful thoughts nor to any pursuit of evil course.” Psalm 141: 3-4
“Be generous to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
“In a word, as God’s dear children, try to be like him, and live in love as Christ loved you and gave himself up on your behalf as an offering and sacrifice whose fragrance is pleasing to God.” Ephesians 5:1
Words matter. They are not empty or harmless. They are filled with power, and once they are spoken, they cannot be unsaid. We can build up or tear down. We can make people laugh or we can make them cry. We can motivate people or we can just make them mad. Our choice.
Thank you so much for stopping by to read this blog. I’m delighted to be joining my dear friend Vicki’s Christians Read blog, and will be posting here regularly. I hope you will leave a comment. If there is any subject you would like to see addressed in this blog, tell us about that, too. Have a blessed day.
God is good.