Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Power of Words

As I continue on in my Proverbs study, I am being enlightened day by day. Sure, I know many of these proverbs, but to actually sit down and meditate on them really gives me fresh perspective. This week is going to be a really powerful one for me. This week's study deals a lot with the tongue and words spoken; a great area of struggle for me.

As long as I can remember, I have used my words carelessly. I say a lot of negative things. I say things meant in jest that could potentially hurt feelings. Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." DEATH and LIFE. What more do I need to know? The words I speak bring DEATH and LIFE. Seriously. That kind of puts things in perspective. If you're like me, you have heard the debate over this verse. Some teachers of the Word say that it means hurt feelings, while others say the words you speak can bring literal death. There are those that teach that your words have the power to make things happen, just as Jesus' words caused the fig tree to wither. I am not going to get into that debate. Rather, I am going to make this point. Our words have the potential to kill someone...emotionally, spiritually, and that can lead to physical death as well. Think about it. Think about a time that someone said something that just crushed you, something that caused such inexplicable pain. Think of the death you felt on the inside. Think of those who have committed suicide because of things said to them. Words do have the power of life and death.

Today I read Proverbs 12:18. It says, "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." I'm sure we could all attest to this. We have all had reckless words pierce our hearts, literally take our breath away. Sometimes the words spoken to us were spoken without the intention to hurt, but they hurt anyway. Now let's examine ourselves. When have we used reckless words? Think about times you may have hurt someone by your loose tongue. Maybe you don't struggle with this at all, but I surely do. I use reckless words every day. How awful is that? Sometimes these words are directed at my husband, my kids, friends, patients, the check out lady at Target. Many times, I speak careless words, words that I don't intend to cause harm but do anyway. Prime example, Tristan, you're driving me crazy! RECKLESS! If I have to do this one more time, I'm going to run away! RECKLESS.

James 3:8 says that "No man can tame the tongue." No man. Not you, not me. It is up to us to ask God for help. It is up to us to focus on the positive because out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). Like David, we should pray, "Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).

This may have totally bored you. You may not struggle with this at all. If you do, though, you're not alone. I have close friends who are struggling right beside me with this (we're praying for each other on this. I'm not trying to give someone a hint about themselves ;)). It is SO hard to tame the tongue!

Lord, I humbly come before you and ask you to set a guard over my mouth. Please keep a watch over my lips and let the words I speak be words of life, words that build others up rather than tear them down. Lord, let me be known as someone who speaks words of encouragement, someone whose words bring healing. Father, help me to focus on the positive and to keep my sights set on Jesus. Lord, I love You. I praise You. In Jesus Name, Amen.


M.S. said...

I agree! Thanks for posting this. It is an ongoing effort for us and now we are noticing that if we don't teach this to our kids then they will automatically speak words that are not pleasing to God. It may start out as something "innocent" like telling a sibling, "You are so crazy!" or "You are too little!" Then we noticed the rejection in the other child. It is easy to teach them, yet we struggle with it as adults. One friend of mine and I made a mental list of things we were going to quit saying. I am still working on it and I am sure I always will be! Thanks again for this reminder and encouragement.

Rachael said...

This post was soooo good! This is something I struggle with too and it's nice to be reminded of what the Word says about it!!!

Donna said...

Shana and I memorized Ephesians 4:29 in college and I've never forgotten it- only speak what is HELPFUL and what will "benefit those who listen". SO CONVICTING. The other day Marky told me I was driving him crazy and I was appalled and told him we NEVER say that and he said, "but mommy you say that." I didn't even really realize I was saying it. I want to bring words of life to my family and friends. Thanks for this post!

annieck said...

Mandy, I LOVE your idea of making a list of things that I would like to quit saying. Why didn't I think of that?! THANKS for sharing!!! I will be doing that ASAP!

Donna, thanks for mentioning Eph 4:29. What a great verse!!! You're right...SO CONVICTING! Definitely something to strive for!!! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your awesome posts. You keep me so motivated everyday. I dont know anyone who doesnt struggle with this daily!! Thank you for your wisdom. Praying for you daily.

Nathan and Rachel Greenfield said...

annie, love the post! ouch is it convicting- there is a verse that says we'll be held accountable for every idle word we speak (can't remember the reference)= i know most days i don't do well in this area and i've thought more about the way i speak to nathan now that noah is in the picture. i want to be a good example in front of him of respect and most days i let my tongue run away!
i love your blog- you might just be the next beth moore! i can totally see it with your cute little accent and sense of humor! you've already got a following :) :) :)
miss ya!

Brandi said...

Count me in. This is something that I never really thought about much until I made someone I love cry. Not much bothers me so I think others are like that. Not so. I didn't even realize what I was saying was hurtful. Boy was I wrong. That was last summer and ever since I have tried to be mindful of my words. Not easy and I'm still working on it.

annieck said...

Wow, thank you for your prayers and encouragement! They mean a TON!
I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who has to work on this one. It is definitely a daily struggle. I had some slippages today, and I hope and pray that tomorrow there are less. :)

Rachel, you are too kind, my dear! Miss you guys terribly. Can't wait to meet that precious Noah!