Considering Our Words

Guest post by Adam Barker

There was a time in my life when I did not understand the power of words and how much of an effect they could have on any particular situation. This lack of understanding disappeared when I decided to marry a tough, Italian girl from New Jersey.

Not long after exchanging vows, I soon learned that I should be a little more selective about the words that come out of my mouth. My time of saying whatever was on my mind, like I did with my high school and college buddies, was now a thing of the past. The book of James and his instructions about “the tongue” quickly became an object lesson after I said the words “I do”. In fact, I learned that I could change only one word within a single sentence and it would determine how things would go for the rest of my day. Here are two examples side-by-side:

Example 1: “Wow honey, you look like you have lost weight!”

Example 2: “Wow honey, you look like you have gained weight!”

Did you see that? Did you see how just one word can determine if I sleep in my own bed for the night or if my place of rest will be on the couch? Yes, each word has power and the ability to change a number of things. This is true in more areas than just my marriage. The words we use hold the power to destroy relationships or spread the Gospel. James 3:5-10 says this:

“So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”

While we maneuver through this season of instability and, at the same time, have the ears of many at our fingertips (via social media), we have two choices. Do we use our words for blessing or do we use our words for cursing? Pay close attention to that passage in James though, because the ability to choose our words carefully is not actually attainable through human effort.

When Jesus was questioned about the impossibility of a rich man entering the Kingdom of God (you know, the “camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle” thing) he followed up with this rebuttal to the dilemma: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26b). I do believe that this same mindset could be attached to carefully using our words.

So as we sit and read (or listen) to the back-and-forth of discussions about all that is going on these days, let us first turn to God before speaking or typing. Let us ask Him for guidance on what to say or whether to even speak at all. I can assure you, if we turn to God before expressing our thoughts, He will guide our words when we choose to speak and He will be our words when you choose to be silent.

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