When I became a Christian I knew that my life would need to change in a lot of areas. Some of the changes were pretty easy to implement right away while other changes were a tad bit more difficult to embrace. As I look back on the early years of my faith, little did I know that some areas that would need to be changed would be more of a life-long process as opposed to a “one and done” decision. One such area where I am being challenged in has to do with the words that I speak. Many of us know to avoid filthy language – the kind of language reserved for an R-rated flick. Yet I am being challenged to look at all the words I speak because no word can ever truly be taken back once it has been uttered. I know that sometimes I speak words that tear down instead of words that build up.
I have passed on opportunities to speak words that reinforce one’s identity in Him. Often I speak words that are spoken in jest but end up hurting the one who laughs along with me. I am also aware that I put a sarcastic spin on my words to get a laugh or a rile, but rarely do they bring edification to the hearer. I have been confronted with many issues and addictions in my life and by His grace, He has set me free and I am no longer enslaved to those past issues or addictions. While I have been able to see transformation take place in the areas of my life where the “big” sins existed, why then do I still struggle with the words I speak? Maybe you do too? May I suggest that while the “big” sins are serious and consist of even greater consequences, they may not be the most damaging thing we can do to ourselves or to those around us.
When we look in the Bible, we see that there are some very, very clear commands when it comes to the words that we speak. Here are some examples: “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 (Ephesians 4:29).” “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8).” “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be (James 3:9-10).”
A quick search on the internet shows that the average male speaks around 7,000 words a day while the average female speaks around 20,000 words a day. Whether you are male or female, you will be saying a lot throughout the course of your day. So then what will we really be saying? Will we be applying the instructions of Ephesians 4, Colossians 3 and James 3? Will we be speaking truth and life to those in our home, our workplace and our community? Or will we be merely muttering phrases that are no different from those whom we are seeking to influence? This is what I am being challenged in as I continue to be transformed more into His likeness. And while this area of my life is turning out to be more than just a “one and done” decision, I am encouraged by His faithfulness to me. I do desire my words to be a blessing to those who hear. I do desire to speak in a manner that is gracious when possible. My prayer for us is that when we can, we choose to speak words that reflect the following: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).
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