“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” –Matthew 12:36b-37 MSG
Ouch! This reminder is worded strongly so that people who think what they say doesn’t really matter, realize, “it matters!” Our words have the power to give life and lift up others; they also have the power to destroy. Carefully considering what we are saying can keep us out of hot water.
Always Be Careful
Have you ever been so involved in a conversation that you went from sharing what was in your heart right into gossiping about what was on your mind? One minute you and a friend are talking about the joys and trials you are both going through and the next minute you are tearing down Susie Somebody with mean words and judgmental accusations. A conversation that started as a way to fan the flames of your friendship morphed into a raging wildfire of mean words. How does that happen?
One way is simply unforgiveness. Every day we get our feelings hurt, our toes stepped on, and things don’t go our way. If we aren’t careful to forgive and release the stinging after effects they build up and then “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34b NIV).
In other words, all of our feelings of hurt and frustration well up and then roll off our tongue. We end up verbally annihilating another person and then feeling worse than before. No matter how righteously angry you were, you’ll never feel good about gossiping or speaking meanly about another person. We are created in the image of God and our spirit attests to this by pricking our conscience when we step out of God’s will.
We have to head off a heart full of hurt every day so that it doesn’t build up and burst forth.
Accountable, Blameless, Cautious
Do you have someone to be accountable with, someone whom you can trust to hear you and steer you as you navigate through life? Is there someone whom you can reach out to and express your hurts and know that she will redirect your thoughts to God’s word and not allow you to slide down the slope of gossip?
Do you practice holding your tongue in an effort to keep your words blameless? Have you been in a situation where you were being mistreated or misunderstood but chose to address it with compassion and grace?
Do you think before you speak? Are you cautious with your words and with other people’s hearts?
Aware, Beneficial, Circumspect
Sadly, we often have to experience a time of failure in order to make us aware of our weakness. Speaking badly of another, feeling our pained conscience, repenting and seeking forgiveness can be valuable tools as we strive to grow in Christ. Just as a small child learns the hard way not to touch the hot stove, we too learn through painful trials.
The Bible says that we will be held accountable for our words. As important as it is to refrain from speaking badly, it is equally important to speak beneficially. First Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” God wants us to use good words to each other, to inspire and give confidence to those in need.
Lastly, we need to be circumspect with our words by paying attention to what we are saying. If we notice we are complaining, we need to stop. I used to tell my friends that there are some situations that I just don’t talk about because ranting seems to “give bad circumstances arms and legs.” What I meant was that some of the hard circumstances I was facing got worse when I started dwelling on them in conversations. It is all too easy to find a friend who will wallow in misery alongside you rather than quietly allowing God to work in your heart.
Using caution before using words can allow us to see that God gets all of the glory in all ways and in all situations.
How do you plan to use your words today?
Please share with us in the comments.
Want more about our Words, check this post out by Brenda McGraw called, Sticks and Stones. The Keys to Making a Difference with Your Words.
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