“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” I’m sure, if you’re like me, you’ve either said or heard this little children’s rhyme more than just a few times. Unfortunately, we don’t often stop to think just how harmful words can be when used carelessly. The fact is, words can and will hurt, sometimes exacting a deadly blow to the hearer. And, many times carelessly spoken words hurt people other than the one to whom they were directed—similar to and often more damaging to the spirit than second-hand smoke can be to the body.
The Bible teaches us how to properly use communication as a tool to build up and minister grace while avoiding the careless and damaging words which can be as powerful as a weapon to harm or tear down.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
The key is to guard your words and carefully choose them so they build up rather than tear down. I’ve done it and I guarantee you have as well … allowing those poison darts to fly out of our mouth in order to inflict harm or shame or to get a point across at any cost. We had the choice to use those words or not, but we chose to release the words aimed at the heart of the hearer without regard to the power they contained to wound or even kill.
Our words minister to those who hear them. They either minister grace or they cause people to turn away hurt and dejected; they may even bear the scars from our careless words for an entire life. Words, once they are released from our lips travel at the speed of sound; nothing can be done to reverse their affect once they’ve been spoken. Your words bear witness of what is truly in your heart: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matt. 12:34).
Next time you open your mouth to react to something, think twice and minister grace. Great will be your reward. You may never know the impact your gracious response will have on the person with whom you’re talking.
Father, help me to put a guard over my mouth to speak those things which only minister grace to the hearer. Help me remember that as a representative of my Lord Jesus Christ, it is my obligation to point everyone to Him in everything I do, everything I say, and everywhere I go. Help me minister grace to all with whom I come in contact as if on a mission from heaven, amen.
“Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Psalm 141:3)
© Jan Ross
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