Thank you…yes ma’am…you’re beautiful…I love you. Words can be so powerful; they can bless, soothe, and empower. Get away…you’re fired…shut up…I hate you. Words can also isolate, devastate, and demoralize.
Words are fine tools, helping awesome relationships and connections to flourish. Words can also be heat-seeking weapons, deftly defending our psyche and attacking those who threaten our me-first kingdom. The world has come to applaud and exalt quick-witted retorts. My own need to be in control, to be the expert, to show my competence, or to cover my vulnerability pushed my mastery of the quick, sarcastic, sharp, verbal attack.
I came to realize that when I used words to damage others…I was actually damaging myself as well. Some important elements of who I am, like self-respect, self-esteem, honor, dignity, relationships, brain chemistry, connection to God…all injured and damaged. Again, we see this all too common phenomena, when we use words reflexively as self-protective maneuvers like really self-destructive word grenades.
Another downside of resorting to this counter-offensive using verbal attacks, it interferes with my opportunity to learn, practice, and hone much healthier skills and methods to deal with the perceived attacks. You see, God has other ways rather than my knee-jerk word grenades and I will never get a chance to develop them if I keep resorting to my old poor ones.
The Word of God gives us different instruction about our words, and where to start in developing new and healthier skills: what comes out of our mouths is really the reflection of what is going on in our hearts. In order to modify our word usage, we need to work on our hearts. God has worked on my heart over the years. My swearing is gone and my verbal attacks are markedly decreased. I still have work to do, but as I let God in more, the temptation is less and the need to protect myself by hurling word grenades is minimized as I rest in His defense of me.
Today, let your speech come under the control of the Holy Spirit. Say split second prayers before you respond. Think before you speak, not as you speak. Use your words today to lift someone up, to heal instead of hurt. As your positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in joy and peace in your relationships will simply amaze you. Maybe forward this devotional to someone who has given you grace with his or her words to thank them. Your decision, choose well.
Dear Father God, Thank You for the awesome gift of speech. I confess, Father that I have misused this gift…I confess, Father, that I have used my mouth and mind to hurt others. Forgive me, Father. I pray that You fill me with Your Holy Spirit so that I may have the discipline to think before I speak. Help me pray before answering the phone and before responding to others in conversation. Let others see You in me by the words I speak. I pray these words in the name of the living Word, Jesus Christ; and all God’s people say – AMEN!
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,