Words are powerful! The first recorded words God spoke were, “Let there be light.” (Genesis 1:3) Those four small words were packed with power and created life in a dark world. We, too, have power with the words we speak – in just a few short words, we can speak life and Truth or destruction and death into the lives of others. What we say reveals a lot about the kind of person we are because our words reveal the condition of our heart. “…for whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matthew 12:34).
Ever consider how it’s difficult to remember the kind words people have spoken to you in your life, yet you can recall word-for-word the hurtful things people have said to or about you? That’s because words carry weight that can last a lifetime, and once they leave a person’s mouth, they can never be taken back. Many of our greatest individual insecurities can be traced back to the damaging words spoken to us by someone else.
This should cause us to ask ourselves if we’re weighing our words before we speak them so that we aren’t contributing to the hurt in someone else’s life. Proverbs 15:28 tells us, “The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.”
I’ve never met a person who likes it when people speak unkind words to them. So, if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves as Jesus teaches in Matthew 22:38, then that applies to the words we speak as well.
Our tongue is one of the smallest parts of our body, but it sure has a lot of power! Here are a few strategies that can help us think before we speak:
1. Wait for 24 hours – The expression, “sleep on it,” is way under-utilized. It’s incredible how a good night’s sleep can adjust our perspective, calm our temper, and provide us with the time and clarity we need to gain control over our emotions. Our emotions change like the wind and are completely unreliable. It’s time we stop allowing how we feel to control what we say and do. God gives us a spirit of power, love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), so we can control how we feel and what we say. The world tries to tell us that we can’t, but the world is wrong, my friends.
2. Pray for God to help you say the right thing – James 4:2 says that we have not because we ask not. And let me just tell you that whenever we genuinely seek God to help us control our words and say the right thing, He will answer that prayer. He will! All we have to do is ask Him for His help. I pray Psalm 19:14 whenever I’m looking for the right words: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
3. Be a good friend to others (including your family members, co-workers, and people you don’t even know) – Besides damaging the hearts of others, our hurtful words can isolate us; they are the match that lit the burned bridges of our past. Plus, we need each other! God put us on this earth to have a relationship with Him, to further His kingdom, and to have relationships with each other. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.” If we want to have good friends in our life…if we want to have strong relationships…if we want to receive the love we desire, then we need to be a good friend to others.
The words we choose make all the difference. What words will you choose today? May we all think before we speak.