by Delores Liesner
Have you ever noticed the words we remember the most? We hopefully will remember the kind words, compliments, and undeserved words of grace. They encourage us and think in wonder that others see God in us despite the truth of our failings.
But there are other kinds of words also stored in our minds– dark whispers, angry shouts, and words that poke like thorns upon remembrance. Words said to us without kindness or grace. Those words are hard to forget.
Yesterday I hurt someone with my words. What I said did not represent what I truly thought of them. I care for that person! I worry those unkind words may well stick in their hearts the same way others’ thoughtless barbs have stuck in mine. I hope my apology and future actions and words can someday override my thoughtlessness.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us to “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” NASB
My first failing was even before the first word came out of my mouth. It was the first word in that verse… I let. I could have stopped the cruel words before they ever hit the air waves, instead remembering to use life-giving words. Why? Because I did not go to God before I opened my mouth. I let emotion, not the Spirit, rule my response.
They say hurting people tend to hurt others. I found that true in myself as I lashed out in response to the hurt I was feeling. The irony was, as I spoke unkindly, I actually was stirring up the same emotions in them that would make them want to respond back in anger to me. Choosing that path will never end well.
Practicing giving God control of our tongues involves remembering to stop, ask for grace, and to determine to speak only words that build up. Words that will last in a positive way. Even the hardest truth can be delivered with compassion and grace.
Imagine if we all made Ephesians 4:29 our standard! How different so many of our conversations would be. What if we took a few seconds and asked God to help us season our words with grace? When I remember to ask for God’s perspective, I can see my potentially damaging words for what they are—an emotional reaction. When we determine to follow His lead, an amazing thing will happen: people will respond with grace in return.
Stopping to ask God what we should say next may cause some quiet (and possibly uncomfortable) moments, as He helps us sift out unwholesome communication. But wouldn’t you rather those speaking into your life take the time to remove the thorn before they hand you the rose?
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 NIV
About the author: Delores Liesner loves to reveal the dynamic hope and confidence found in the heritage of our personal God. She writes from Racine, WI., is a CLASS graduate, 21st Century Grandma and Life Tales columnist. She has published hundreds of stories and articles. Check out her Amazon Author page!
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Join the conversation: Do you remember a time when your kind words disarmed a potentially damaging conversation?