Words which do not give the light of Christ only increase the darkness.
:: Mother Teresa ::
I’m not sure how many countless words the average American speaks on any given day, but I’d bet it’s a bunch.
If we’re honest, we don’t always think about what we say. But, there’s so much truth in the saying, “words matter”.
They carry weight and we know that the phrase, “sticks and stones…” is not true. Words can hurt., but they can also bring healing.
Being in a grad program for counseling means that I use fewer words than ever. “Disclosure” and “direction”, on my part, are limited so that the client can have the floor.
That said, I’m committed to making my words count for something; committed to the practice of speaking life.
I know lots of my brothers and sister in Christ who are committed to this as well. Their lives speak this truth.
The words that we speak about ourselves, about our families, about our lives all matter.
Scripture talks about this a lot: life and death in the power of the tongue, idle speech, gossip, the faith to speak those things that are not as though they are, the entire book of Proverbs etc.
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: 14 ::
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
:: Proverbs 18:21 ::
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
:: James 1:26 ::
He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
:: Proverbs 22:11 ::
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
:: Colossians 4:6 ::
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
:: Proverbs 15:4 ::
I see my life and the lives of those around me as agents of change. And the words I sometimes throw around so carelessly can take root in their hearts and minds, giving a narrative deep in their person about themselves, the God we love and about each other. I know this because the words of others have taken root in my own life. Some edifying and good and some that are right in line with the enemy’s lies.
So those things that are lovely, beautiful, praise-worthy or well-done need noticing. I need to be just as quick to notice when others do something good as when they do something wrong. I need to encourage with my words, ministering life by letting them know I see the real self there and I think they are beautiful, smart, wise and good hearted. This doesn’t mean doling out empty, effusive praise but good, true words of life given with intention.
That’s why it’s so nice hearing that you’re an encouragement to someone. This isn’t a gift to be taken lightly. That person just called you a “Courage-giver”! You imparted some strength that they didn’t have before speaking to you. The benefits of this are innumurable. It doesn’t end with them feeling warm fuzzy or me feeling good about their warm fuzzy or even with bettering their “self-image’. Life giving words are challenging; a call to higher things. Not to mention that we are containers of glory and grace. This should be so full in us that it overflows.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
:: Luke 6:45 ::
When we watch what we’re saying to others, we notice what our complaints are and how often we vocalize them. I’m guilty of caching myself complaining and wondering what the object of the complain would say if they were present…. But they’re not. And then, there’s the “do unto others” rule. What would I feel like if I knew I was an inconvenience to someone, if I were exhausting them? Or if I were called a name that didn’t belong to me? Yikes!
So, in the middle of a “girl talk” where friends and I start “venting” or getitng into “real talk”, it’s more poingnent that I’m up to something
futile destructive and courage taking. These talks aren’t about change or constructing a more gracious atmosphere. They’re just about complaining for the sake of complaining. I know, I’ve been there. Knowing the warning signs means that we can steer clear of those traps, or better yet, re-direct them in efforts to bring about truth and forgiveness.
Today, let’s say something true and kind to ourselves, to someone we love and to someone we have a hard time loving. We’ll see what happens (but I bet it’s something full of more courage and strength than we started with).