By Patricia Newman
Words matter. Our words are powerful. They express our thoughts, emotions, inclinations, beliefs, requests and so on. We speak to and impact one another through our words. All sorts of words: kind words, cruel words, gentle words, harsh words. Uplifting words, disheartening words, words that honour, words that dishonour, words that build up, and words that tear down. What kind of words are you speaking? Our words can calm or agitate, they can encourage or bring discouragement, they can heal or hurt, they can guide or mislead.
Since the Fall, when our first parents Adam and Eve first sinned against God, all are born sinful. Sinful human beings speak sinful words; for the corrupting effect of sin is pervasive. The words of the natural man or woman or boy or girl are intrinsically flawed, inevitably tainted with sin. It should not be so with the redeemed, the children of God.
Our words reveal the true state of our heart. Jesus said: Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). It follows that as we have received a new heart, our speech must reflect this. A new heart must mean transformed talk. Granted, some of us are further ahead on the blessed sanctification road, and will accordingly show more grace in their speech. The word of God clearly has much to say to us about our speech. Here are just a few verses:
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD my Rock and my Redeemer.
Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
"I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence." Psalm 39:1
The mouth of the righteous is a well of life,
But violence covers the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 10:11
It is God's will that our speech reflect our new nature. We belong to Him. Our words must therefore be true words spoken from a pure heart. They should be gracious and caring, springing from a heart of love. We do all, including our speaking, for the glory of God.
We clearly should not engage in gossiping, lying, spiteful remarks, crude or profane talk, and such like. Our Lord Jesus, our perfect Example, spoke excellently as grace poured from His lips (Luke 4:22). Those sent by His very enemies to arrest Him said of Jesus: "No man ever spoke like this man!" John 7:46
Prophesying of the perfect ministry of the Messiah Jesus, Isaiah says:
The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. Isaiah 50:4
In Proverbs 25:11, the Bible says: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
This is a picture of precious, beautiful and timely speech. A word that is spoken in season is extremely valuable to the one to whom it is spoken. Think of how the words of Jesus must have lifted and catapulted Mary's spirit when the disciples were saying that the alabaster jar of perfume was too costly to be employed in the way that she did. Our Lord roundly defended Mary and said: "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." Matthew 26:13
The manner in which words are spoken also matter. Truth must be spoken in love. Proverbs 15:1 says, "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."
As Job certainly experienced, even the words of friends can have a very negative effect: "How long will you torment me and crush me with words?" (Job 19:2) How we need the leading of the Holy Spirit when we open our mouths, particularly in delicate situations. How pleasing and delightful a timely word is (Proverbs 15:23).
Have you received a word in season when you desperately needed it? I recently have – and how precious it was! Heaven-sent. How are you employing your lips? "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) Do you bless or curse people with your lips? The Bible warns us about the wrong use of our lips. In Matthew 12:36, our Lord Jesus warns that we will account for every idle word:
But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.
May we take heed and never forget this warning. May we think Christ before we speak.
There are hurting people everywhere. Is there any one to whom you can bring words of comfort, words of encouragement, words that heal emotional wounds, words that build up the down-trodden?
God's word is pure wisdom – apples of gold in a silver setting to me. Again and again. What comfort in times of trial, what counsel for every need, what encouragement in difficult times. What sound guidance we have in God's word.
Is there any to whom you can bring the word of life? There are many waiting to hear those divine words of Jesus: Come unto Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Would you be the vessel of grace through which God ministers the word of life?
May our words be founded on the Word, Jesus, the living expression of God.
May we be true lovers of God. Like the blessed remnant, described by the prophet Malachi, that feared God, revered His word and were zealous to obey and serve Him.
Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name. Malachi 3:16
May we speak to one another edifying words, words of comfort, words of encouragement, words of good counsel, and if needed, words that rebuke and correct in love. May we hear on that Day the most gracious and glorious words that all the saints long to hear from our Lord and Saviour:
Well done, good and faithful servant!