Words are important, aren’t they? You have to be careful with your words. In fact, the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Given that words are powerful, how do we live as wise people with our words? Proverbs says there are several things that we should do.
- We are to “pause” our words (Proverbs 29:20). We need to be careful to pause before we speak to give God a chance to intercede. Somewhere between the action and reaction there is a span of time. And the longer that span of time is, the more opportunity God has to change how we choose to respond.
- We must restrain our words (Proverbs 10:19). Sometimes, the more we speak, the greater the likelihood that we will say something we shouldn’t say. The more you say, the more trouble you get in. Have you ever said something that you wish you could retract? I’ve created a top ten list of areas that tend to get us into trouble. As we quickly go through them, ask the Holy Spirit which ones you struggle with, and then put a check mark next to them:
- Name-calling (James 3.8-10)
- Using harsh words (Proverbs 11.9)
- Exaggerating (Proverbs 4.24)
- Lying (Proverbs 14.25)
- Gossiping or slandering (Proverbs 20.19)
- Misplacing complaints (Matthew 18.15)
- Bragging (Proverbs 27.2)
- Being ungrateful (1 Thessalonians 5.18)
- Criticising (Ephesians 4.29)
- Speaking unnecessarily (Proverbs 17.28)
- We must give life with our words. It is not just about what we don’t say. It is not just about pausing and restraining. The truth is, we can do a lot of really good things with our words. We can tell someone that we love them. We can encourage someone and tell them that we believe in them. We can affirm someone. We can thank someone. Most importantly, we can point them to eternal life (Romans 10:13- 15). This week, every single one of us is going to have an opportunity to speak a life-giving word. To bear witness to a friend or co-worker who doesn’t know God. We will have an opportunity to tell them how God has helped us in our own lives, and we don’t have to know a lot to share what we already know!
- We must check our own hearts (Luke 6:45). James tells us that no one can control their tongue. This is a message about allowing God to change our heart because if God changes our heart, it changes our tongue. Why do we brag? It’s because we are trying to draw attention to ourselves to boost our self- esteem. But when we know God, he meets that need and we don’t have to brag. We criticize others to push them down and lift ourselves up. We have to win the argument, we have to control others. Friends, those are all heart issues. And when God changes our heart, when we say “Lord, forgive me,” he comes and takes up residence in our lives and begins to change our hearts. And when our heart changes, it changes our speech. For a man speaks from that which fills his heart. The reason a man lies is because he is afraid of consequences. He doesn’t understand the grace that is available through Jesus Christ. Many of us have called upon God to save us, and he has begun the process of changing our life. Let’s ask him to continue that good work in us!
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Ask God to continue to change you, to do a new work in your heart! As the Psalmist said: “Oh God, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.” – Psalm 19:14
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)