I had blown it. And I knew I deserved whatever came my way.
I sat down and told my husband about a mistake I had made that negatively impacted our family financially. It had cost us money we didn’t have, and I deserved every bit of criticism he surely had for me. So I sat, and waited for the words to come. But what he did next leveled me.
He exchanged his well deserved remarks with overwhelming grace.
He forgave me, immediately. He looked on with compassion, and offered solution. He painted a larger view, and offered hope. He looked at the bigger picture of us, of our family, and knew that this issue was not bigger than us, or the future that God had for us.
I was so incredibly thankful for his words.
Have you ever been there? Been the recipient of overwhelming words that have made an impact on your life, either positively or negatively?
If you’re like me, there’s too many to choose from. I can think of countless times someone has encouraged me, or told me they believed in me. I can also think of moments when another’s words have crushed me, leaving me to feel insecure or hurt.
I can think of times I’ve encouraged someone else and helped them to see God’s truth in their lives. I can also painfully recall times I’ve hurt someone I love.
Our words are powerful.
Proverbs 18:21 says that “the tongue has the power of life and death”.
Life and death, ladies.
However, James 3:8 says that “no one can tame the tongue…” So are we sunk? Are we finished before we even begin? No, we are not without hope, however, there is way too much at stake here to take this one lightly.
We are in the middle of our Summer to Soak Series, taking a verse a week and allowing God’s Truth to really sink into our lives. And this week we’re looking at an area can make us either soar or shudder: our words.
Our Verse for Week Four
“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.”
Who Wrote It And Why?
Paul wrote this book to the church in Ephesus, and as you recall from last week, Paul put Timothy in charge of this church. The book of Ephesians can be split into two parts,the first being full of theology and truth of who Jesus Christ is – for by grace you have been saved through faith. The second begins in chapter 4 with a plea from Paul to then live differently. Since we’ve been given so much, we must live our lives in such a way that is worthy of our calling as a believer. Verse 29 is a part of that charge.
We have a lot to say as women, don’t we? A lot of (mostly) good and life-giving stuff! We can, however, cast a long shadow with our words, negatively at times. We can keep our husbands in the doghouse. We can shame our children. We can gossip about our friends.
This week I want us to get real, get honest about what is really coming out of our mouths. Ask yourself these questions:
1. How do I speak to others?
What do you find yourself saying? Take some time to listen to yourself. As you are speaking with your children, your spouse, and co-workers, what do you hear yourself saying? Do your words cause others to feel:
encouraged or tore down
accepted or unwanted
valued or that they are a burden
needed or used
respected or unworthy
Take a moment to honestly look at the words you use, and how those words are impacting those around you.
2. How do I speak of others?
We can speak well of others in their presence, however, can people trust that we are speaking well of them when they are not around? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do I look for the chance to exert my “rightness” at the expense of another?
- Do I instinctively throw others under the bus to gain approval?
- Do I try to make others laugh by making a snarky comment about another?
- Do I gleefully jump in when others have dicey information about a friend?
Here are four things to think about:
Be a friend to their face and behind their back. Be someone who others can count on to be the same person they see, and the same person they hear about from others. It’s the foundation of friendship and it’s spelled i-n-t-e-g-r-i-t-y. And as my mama always said, if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all!
If you have an issue with someone, talk to them about it. Not others. My husband has a saying that “a friend will stab you in the chest, not your back”. It means that you can count on your true friends to speak the truth to your face, even if it hurts. Just as you would want someone to come to you with an issue, do the same for others. Matthew 18:15 has good things to say about this.
Remember if Satan can separate, he has gained ground in our lives. Satan is NOT our friend and his absolute goal is to steal our loyalty, kill our relationships, and destroy our lives, our families and our churches (John 10:10). If he can get us to turn on each other, he’s got the beginnings of a good destructive work in our life. We must stand strong for the unity and love God so desperately desires for His bride. Choose your words wisely. Do not give the enemy the ground he longs to take.
We do not always have to agree or be agreeable. We of course have a right to our thoughts and opinions. That person may in fact be completely wrong. And we are not called to be emotionless doormats. However, Jesus had a lot to say about a good and right way to speak of others in the midst of our disageements.
3. What’s in my heart?
Before we can deal with our words, we need to be honest about what’s going on in our hearts. Our words are a REFLECTION of what’s in our hearts, aren’t they? When my heart is filled with joy, my words are encouraging. When my heart is full of strife, my words come out harsh. Proverbs 4:23 says to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Take an honest look and better understand what’s going on inside that is producing the words you’re using.
How Can I Soak In This Verse?
1. Write it out! Yes, I know I say this every! week, but it’s a powerful way to internalize His Word. And we have got to get this one at our core, so write it out and put it up where you can see it.
2. Remind yourself that your words matter. Do you believe that? Do you believe that your words leave a wake, good or bad? Again, Proverbs 18:21 reminds us that they have the power of life and death. Allow the truth of that to sink down and transform you.
3. Ask God if there are areas you need to change. And be willing to change. We desperately need His help on this one. Ask God to soften areas that may be callous, to show you areas that need to be changed, and then the wisdom and courage to do it.
4. Watch for opportunities to bring LIFE with your words. Be intentional this week with the words that you say. Respond in a way that builds the other person up. Lay down your agenda or your pride. Extend love with your words.
5. For more, spend time in these verses: Proverbs 15:1-4, Proverbs 18:21, James 3:3-12, 1 Peter 3:8-12
Ladies, your words have the power of life and death. Be intentional on this one today. Humble yourself before the Lord and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit and speak life and love to those around you.
How have the words of others encouraged you?
What have you come to know about how your words impact others?
Leave a comment below, your stories are an encouragement to others!