“Did I Really Say That?!” Using Wisdom in Our Words
Have you ever been in a circumstance when you said something that you couldn’t believe actually came out of your mouth? Maybe a bit too much gossip or words spoken in anger. Did you grow up in a family where compliments were hard to come by but criticism was not?
Perhaps you have been the recipient of someone else’s careless talk. Do any of these scenarios resonate with you?
No matter how you try to rationalize careless words, they hurt.
One of the most well known passages in the Bible on controlling the tongue can be found in James. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry….if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself.” James 1:19, 26.
Proverbs has much to say about the unbridled tongue: “With his mouth the godless destroys his neighbors.” Proverbs 11:9b “A gossip betrays a confidence”. Proverbs 11:13 “Reckless words pierce like a sword.” Probers 12:18 “The tongue has the power of life and death” Proverbs 18:21 “A lying tongue hates those it hurts.” Proverbs 26:28 “The LORD detests lying lips” Proverbs 12:22
Have you ever considered that when you speak ill of people, gossip, lie, say biting things, or are cruel and unkind you are revealing your own character? Jesus said that “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart…” Matthew 15:18
Being unrestrained in what you say and how you say it controls and corrupts your whole life. It will influence your relationships with those you love, your friends, business associates, and everyone you interact with in life. Indeed, it will affect your sense of peace, happiness and contentment.The Bible says that there is no portion of your life that won’t be touched by what you say, so it’s imperative that you learn to control your tongue. An unbridled tongue is a dangerous and destructive thing and once a word is spoken we cannot recall it, no matter how badly we would like to.
I grew up in a family where words of praise were few but words of criticism were easily given. I still remember how I struggled with the pain of constantly being put down and criticized. The constant negative reinforcement caused me to struggle for years with a sense of insecurity and inadequacy. I promised myself that I would not repeat that pattern with my children. Unfortunately when I was raising my own family I found myself falling into the negative pattern of my parents. As I was struggling with controlling my negative tongue with my children, I read Ephesians 4:29.
The verse jumped off the page. I immediately wrote it down, and referred to the verse whenever I was tempted to lash out. Perhaps this verse will be an encouragement to you and help you as much as it helped me: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” In NIV 1984 or, in another translation: “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” NLT.
I immediately followed the truth of this verse and my approach to parenting was dramatically changed. I began looking for the positive in each act, not the negative. When I corrected my children I did so with a voice of encouragement, not criticism. And another amazing thing occurred: I began to view my life in a much more positive light and I found it easier to cope with everyday frustrations because my entire mental attitude had changed.
Words have consequences, they reflect who we are. Let our words be a reflection of Christ.
“A gracious word may smooth the way; a joyous word may light the day, a timely word may lessen stress; a loving word may heal and bless” – author unknown
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