Thank goodness for the editing features on our computers that help our words to be just right!
How much better our writing is when we make use of spelling and grammar check. If only there were such a feature with our out-loud words! I’m not always careful about the words that are doing a swan dive off of my tongue into the air, even though I know they will never be able to crawl back into my mouth once they are out.
This has happened as recently as last night as my husband and I argued on the phone about a scheduling conflict. I have control issues when it comes to our schedule. Over-scheduling makes me panic. As I started to feel threatened by an out-of-control schedule, words flew out of my mouth like kamikaze pilots on a mission with no hope of returning, and declared war on my bewildered husband. I sent rescue words in the form of an apology, and he was forgiving, but of course the damage to his heart was already done.
I wish it weren’t this way. I wish there were a way to edit what I am saying before I open my mouth. I wish I could hold on to my words until I found the right ones that would be most helpful to the people I love so much. Instead, I tend to say whatever pops into my head.
Do you ever do this?
Our only hope for change is to cling to the holy words of Scripture. The words that come out of our mouths are a reflection of what we have been putting in our hearts. What does it matter how many good works we are doing or how faithful we are in church attendance if we are big meanies with our words behind closed doors?
The strength of our family and the mission of the gospel are affected deeply by the graciousness of our words to each other (…all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another – John 13:35). I think this true of every member of the family, but especially so with our spouse. It is easy to forget how much weight our words carry with the hearts of our mates until it is too late and their spirits are crushed under our harshness.
Jesus was painfully straightforward about this when he said to the Pharisees:
How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.Matthew 12:34-37
The words we say testify to the submission of our heart to the Father. That is terrifying when I think back to some of the careless things I’ve said to my husband. Many of my words have not given evidence to the work of Christ in my heart.
Proverbs has a plethora of things to say about the words we speak. Here are just a few:
There is one whose rash words are life sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.Proverbs 12:18
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.Proverbs 16:24
Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent .Proverbs 17:27-28
Death and life are in the power of the tongue .Proverbs 18:21
The Bible is telling us that the root of this word problem is we fail to use our words with Godly purposes in mind. We use our words to serve ourselves instead of serving God. Here is a way to know if your words are serving yourself, or serving God:
|Selfish Purpose||Godly Purpose|
|Self-defense / Blameshifting |
– “It’s your fault I act this way.”
|Wise words that bring healing (Prov. 12:18)|
– “I am sorry, please forgive me.”
|Condemning words |
– “you always” or “you never”
– “you don’t care about_________”
– ”how could you do this to me?”
|Gracious words that nourish the soul and body (Prov. 16:24)|
– “how can I pray for/help you with this struggle?”
| Words spoken in anger||Words spoken with a cool spirit, intelligence, knowledge and understanding (Prov. 17:27-28)|
|Words that bring death|
– “I hate you for what you’ve done!”
|Words that bring life (Prov. 18:21)|
– “I forgive you for what you’ve done.”
The words we say are evidence of what is in our heart. In order for our words to align with God’s purpose, we must deal with the root. Oftentimes, the roots of our selfish words are anger, unforgivingness, bitterness and/or fear. For me, in the situation above, it was fear of not being in control. This desire to be in control gave birth to anger which then delivered words of death (James 1:15). I have to deal with my fear before my words will reflect trust, yes in my husband, but ultimately in God.
What is rooted in your own heart and producing the words coming out of your mouth?*
Finally, spend some time putting the very words of God in your heart. Here are a few penned by a wordy fella named David:
Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.Psalm 19:12-14
For further study and encouragement read Hebrews 4:14-16, and James 3.
*Perhaps you need to sit down with a counselor to help you weed through any unhealthy roots that might be affecting your communication. Click on the link below to schedule an appointment.