Friday, January 11, 2008

Incredible power of words

In chapter of Philippians, Paul encourages followers of Jesus to present evidence (fruit) on the "outside" of the work God is doing on the "inside". He challenges them in one important area-an area of our lives that Jesus said defiles us more than any other-our words.

Matthew 15:18 (NIV) 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.'

Paul said that people can shine when they don't whine! He said that others can see our authentic faith by the absence of negative speech in the midst of a corrupt and verbally abusive culture.

Words are of the utmost importance. Everything you see and experience exists and takes it shape because of words. In the beginning, God said, and there was. The words He spoke created and shaped everything we see. But that was just the beginning of the conversation. God chose to create other word speaking beings in His own image. For better and for worse, we have been wordsmithing ever since. The shape of our world today is the collective result of countless words exchanged by creative people throughout history.

Our words are impactful. It is hard to fathom just how potent the words we say are. No wonder the Bible has so much to say concerning our communication with others. Every time we speak, creative force is released and there are results. Whether it is two kings meeting to discuss terms on a battle field, people talking over plans to build, a group dialogue about improving a community, a father speaking to his son, the words shared in those moments shape the result seen in the future.

Proverbs 10:20-21 (NIV) 20 The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. 21 The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment.

I have spent an entire week thinking about my words-in particular, my words to my wife and son. It is quite sobering to me to look at Michelle and realize that the amount of confidence, security, and peace that she experiences in life can be in large measure determined by words I say to her. I have witnessed the impact in her life over the years and am deeply convicted of my need to nourish her more with my words. She also could be led to believe she has little worth or value by careless words I speak. May God help me to speak his words to her.

My son is three years old now. I sat and watched him play with his mom today and thought about the formative nature of our words over those years. Everything he believes about himself and life is shaped mostly by our words. I can choose words that go into his heart with important nutrients that shape him into a good man. What he believes about relationships, money, the world around him, even God will be derived from words spoken from us to him over the next few years.

Proverbs 12:18 (NIV) 18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

I am becoming more aware of my opportunties to bring Joy to the world by speaking well chosen words. To be part of God's solution in other's lives is what it means to be a Christian. The people of this world (including me) are sick. Wise words bring healing. Reckless words-thoughtless words, wound. Hearts are sick, damaged, even destroyed by hurtlful words spoken with little or no thought. This is what I am trying to do more of... "think". I want make sure my words are helpful not hurtful.

Proverbs 18:20-21 (NIV) 20 From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. 21 The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

The Bible gives us some helpful ways to use words. Here are a few:

Use words to tell about what God has done. Psalm 40:10 "I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and salvation. I do not conceal your love and your truth."

Psalm 71:8 "My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long."

Use words to teach. "Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel," declares Proverbs 20:15. Col. 3:16 adds, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom."

Use words to strengthen the weak. Job 4:4 "Your words have supported those who stumbled; you have strengthened faltering knees."

Say the right thing at the right time. Proverbs 15:23 declares, "A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!" In many cases, silence is not golden!

Speak gracious words. "Words from a wise man's mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips" (Eccles. 10:12).

Use words to encourage. Christ is our ultimate example of this, of course. As I observe Him through the Gospels, I note that He rarely complimented. (I couldn't find too many times He said, "Way to go!") But He continually encouraged. How? Read John 13–17 to note the ways.

Use words to correct. Proverbs 25:12 says, "Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear."

Our words have eternal implications. In a moment of deep insight, Jesus some critical and unbelieving Jews that words actually reveal ultimate destiny.

Matt. 12:33-37 33 "A tree is identified by its fruit. Make a tree good, and its fruit will be good. Make a tree bad, and its fruit will be bad. 34 You brood of snakes! How could evil men like you speak what is good and right? For whatever is in your heart determines what you say. 35 A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart. 36 And I tell you this, that you must give an account on judgment day of every idle word you speak. 37 The words you say now reflect your fate then; either you will be justified by them or you will be condemned."

My heart is the root and my words are the fruit. My words should be a way for people to taste and see that the Lord is good. According to Jesus and Paul, If God has touched and is changing my heart, then it is reflected in my speech. My words will reflect faith. My words will reflect love. In short my speech says I believe in Jesus. One day I will be justified or condemed by my own words.

Psalm 19:14 "May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer."

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