What's the most joyous thing anyone ever told you? What's the most devastating? It's a peculiar thing, what words can do. Words can evoke emotion on the broadest spectrum, no matter whether spoken, written, sung, or typed. Words can encourage and empower, yet crush and destroy. Words can be used to utter heartfelt prayers and bring lost souls to Jesus, yet they can coax, seduce, and brainwash the masses into believing a lie. We wield incredible power through the use of our words.
I have struggled my entire life with taming my tongue. Just ask my mom---I'm pretty sure I was born a smart aleck. But growing up, I only made use of this particular ability if my dad wasn't home. Or if he was home, I made sure he was out of earshot. I used to smart off to my teachers in school...and if any of those teachers had ever called my parents (I'm very surprised they didn't, by the way), I would have been in big trouble. I'm talking big
trouble! My dad never did put up with a smart mouth.
So I was always very good at turning it off and on. I knew I could control my mouth if I chose to.
I just didn't usually choose to, and unfortunately this carried on well into my adult years. I'm so ashamed of the times when I have spoken hurtful words to others.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.
I have always enjoyed using words to get my point across, even if the point really shouldn't have been made. Words are important to me. I take them to heart. When someone says something deeply meaningful or especially encouraging to me, I don't forget it. I think about it and dwell on it. I savor it and recall the memory over and over again.
But words that hurt are just as hard to forget. A good friend of mine reminds me often that with words we can tear down in a mere moment what it may have taken years to build. I know this to be true as I have experienced it firsthand. Careless words spoken in sarcasm or cruelty can inflict pain so great, the memory of them can be devastating. Sometimes this pain remains with us for the rest of our lives. Once it's been spoken, it can't be taken back. How tragic. And also, how scary, because eventually we all will have some explaining to do. Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
Thank God He uses the trials we go through to refine us. I desperately hope that I am forever changed. May I reflect the heart of Jesus in my speech as I seek to utter only words of truth, comfort, peace, and love. May I put my flesh aside when I experience the urge to lash out. May I practice self control, even if I have to bite my tongue off! Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.
Ephesians 4:29 Holy Spirit, tame my tongue. Help me to bear Your fruit with all that comes forth from my mouth. Convict my heart when I do damage with my words. May I never tear others down with my words, but by Your Spirit may I speak only that which serves to build up and encourage. Forgive me for my many tongue-related transgressions. Heal the damage I've done, and change me permanently. May I live by Your example. Amen!