The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. -Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
Words can cut like a knife, and leave scars even when the wounds have healed. But words can also build up and heal and set things right.
It’s so easy to let your tongue loose when emotions run high, but as believers, we’re called to show restraint and discernment when we speak. Our words should build up, not tear down.
The gift of speech that we have comes with that responsibility…that our gift can be a blessing or a curse to others. And what we can forget is that we also hurt ourselves when we hurt others…and that if we are called to love others as Jesus loves us, then we definitely aren’t being loving by lashing out.
In the Love & Respect blog, Dr. Eggerich says that Jesus is present and affected in our hurtful exchanges. If you imagine that the person you’re talking to were Jesus, would that not change how you talk to them? Now imagine everyone you spoke to were Jesus, regardless of how they’re acting. Can you still treat them as you would treat Jesus?
This excerpt from a Jennifer Kennedy Dean devotional talks more and better about it than I ever could:
Words have to be managed carefully. Once spoken, a word can’t be unspoken. You can’t inhale and pull it back in. Words take on a life of their own. All words are modeled after the Eternal Word: living, active, sharp. If you let words fly in the heat of the moment, someone will have to heal from their impact. You can say, “I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean that!” but the word is out and it lives in the person to whom you spoke it. No wonder the Word of God is jam-packed with warnings about using words prudently.
Hawk Nelson’s “Words” talk about how words can uplift and tear down, and to only speak words that will lead the world back to the Lord: