Very few things in life hold the power of words. We learned in elementary school that sticks and stone may break our bones but words will never hurt us. Lies! Physical injury is nothing compared to what one careless word can do. Words can tear someone’s life apart and they can also bring life to someone desperate of encouragement. Words can be a weapon when used with malice and ill content, or they can be a well of refreshment for the desperate hearted.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Think before you speak: It’s an age old saying and I’m sure most of us have been told that, maybe more than once. There could hardly be better advice. Every conversation can be an opportunity to course correct a life, and if we are not careful, it can send someone down a dangerous detour. People who say whatever comes to their mind generally hurt most people.
Proverbs 10:19 (NASB)
When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
Speak to benefit the listener not yourself: Trying to take back words is like trying to get squeezed toothpaste back in the tube…it’s near impossible. It’s much better to be intentional about speaking life and truth, with grace and with love. If everything we say is meant to be helpful to those we talk to, then we won’t have any need to try and put the toothpaste back in the tube.
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
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.
We all have an audience: You don’t have to be a pastor, teacher, coach, celebrity, or author in order to speak into people’s lives. For parents, there are always tingling little ears waiting to soke up our every word, even if it seems like they aren’t listening. And that never changes, no matter how old our children are. But it doesn’t stop there. For everyone who isn’t a recluse there are people listening to what we say. What are they hearing?
Psalm 19:14 (ESV)
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.