Our Words Matter

by Marilyn Turk

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me. “You’ve probably heard that old adage before. But it’s not true. Words can hurt, perhaps even more than sticks and stones. Bones can usually mend in a matter of weeks, but we can remember hurtful words for years.

Words have power for good or bad. Words can inspire or destroy. They can encourage or tear down. They can bless or curse. They can be instruments of war or of peace. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9 NIV).

The Bible refers to our words, tongue, and mouth over a thousand times, so they must be important to God. We should consider the impact of our words.

Words Can Harm

In the Ten Commandments, we are told to be careful with our words.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7 NIV).

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16 NIV).

But there are other ways we can misuse words. “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels;
they go down to the inmost parts” (Proverbs 18:8 NIV). Gossip is defined as sharing information that shouldn’t be shared, whether it’s true or not. How easy it is to get caught up in gossip!

Words can make others angry. Just look at today’s world, and you see evidence of that truth. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV).

How many times could situations and relationships be different if someone hadn’t said something offensive to another?

Words Can Benefit

Our words can and should be used for good. Our words can comfort, calm, heal hurts, and encourage others.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NIV).

“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).

Who wouldn’t prefer to be around someone whose words are gracious, kind, and encouraging?

How does one build others up according to their needs? You can encourage them. The word ‘encouragement’ means “to put courage into.” Many years ago, I ran in a 10k Fourth of July road race. Not being a consistent runner, I was tempted to stop and rest several times during the race. But people were lined up on each side of the road, cheering and encouraging the runners on. Their words like “you can do it,” gave me the courage to continue.

Would you rather hear praise or criticism? Most people prefer praise. Research has shown that it takes five positive comments to counteract one negative one.

Written words can provide the same effect, like when the church of Antioch received a letter from the church in Jerusalem. “The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message” (Acts 15:31 NIV). Don’t you like to get good mail? I do.

To help you use your words wisely, try praying this verse every day:

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NIV

About the author: Award-winning author Marilyn Turk writes historical and contemporary fiction flavored with suspense and romance. Marilyn also writes devotions for Daily Guideposts. She and her husband are lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses and also served as volunteer lighthouse caretakers at Little River Light off the coast of Maine.

When not writing or visiting lighthouses, Marilyn enjoys walking, boating, fishing, gardening, tennis, playing with grandkids and her golden retriever Dolly.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Faith, Hope and Love, Word Weavers International, and the United States Lighthouse Society. You can find more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Join the conversation: What will you do with your words today?

The Good Path

by Marilyn Turk @MarilynTurk

This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  Jeremiah 6:16 NIV

One day I went out for a walk. I usually stayed on the sidewalk in our neighborhood, but when I noticed a wide trail leading into the woods, I was intrigued. I had never noticed this trail before, and I didn’t even know existed.  But I knew I had to follow it. Although it was obvious that I was not the first to travel the path, what lay ahead was unknown to me. Where did it lead? How far did it go? How long would it take me to discover what lay ahead?

Step by step, I followed the trail, fascinated by the unveiling scenery around me, a natural barrier between two streets. Through the trees and undergrowth, I could see the backyards of houses or their back fences.  Sometimes the path was wide and clear, and I could see farther ahead. Other times, the undergrowth closed in around me, and I could only see part of the path. yet I pressed on.

I questioned myself – why did I go off the main sidewalk? Had I committed to a journey I wasn’t prepared for? Yet, I wanted to find out where it led, trusting the invisible hand that beckoned me. As I traveled, unexpected surprises met me along the way—a fallen tree I had to climb over and lovely wildflowers in yellow and lavender bringing color to the greenery around them. I stopped to take a few pictures with my phone, then continued on, pulled forward like metal to a magnet.

Occasionally, a jogger or a biker passed me on the path. I didn’t mind though, because I knew my pace was my own, and I needn’t hurry to catch up. This was my path, my time, and my chance to enjoy the journey.

When the path appeared dark and mysterious, fear threatened my progress. Yet I continued, expecting to see light just beyond the obscure places. And I was not disappointed, because the path finally opened up for me, and I found myself at the end, glad to have experienced the journey.

The destination was important, but the discoveries made along the way were equally so.

Life is much like my walk down the trail. Like the verse above, when we ask God to lead us, He often takes us down trails we hadn’t expected. We can be afraid and balk at the challenge, or we can accept the new opportunity as part of God’s plan. Sometimes we meet roadblocks or detours and think we’re on the wrong path. But God has reasons for these as well, and He calls them all “good.” He wants us to learn, to grow, and to trust Him, as we travel. But how can we do that unless we keep moving forward?

Jeremiah was called by God to bring His word to the people. His people were steeped in sin and judgment was imminent. They were looking in the wrong places for peace and security. God was calling them to choose a different path. They were being given a choice and were standing at the crossroads.

Would they trust Him?

They would not. God informed him: “You shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will not answer you” (Jeremiah 7:27, NASB). Their bad choice resulted in missing out on wonderful blessings they would have been given had they taken the other way. As they traveled with Him, He would have revealed Himself in new ways and their love for Him would have grown. It was the way of rest and life and security. Their lack of trust in God’s plan for them cost them dearly.

Perhaps we have our own idea of what we plan or want to do. Maybe we’re confused about which way to go. But God knows the plans He has for us, and once we trust Him with our future, He will give us peace, “rest for our souls,” that comes from the confidence that we are following His leading.

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The Good Path – @MarilynTurk on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Marilyn TurkAbout the author: Marilyn Turk’s roots are in the coastal South. She loves God, discovering stories hidden in history, and lighthouses. Her novels show how faith works in the lives of her characters and include two World War II novels, The Gilded Curse (placed second in the Golden Scrolls Awards) and Shadowed by a Spy, and the Coastal Lights Legacy series set in 1800s Florida, Rebel Light, Revealing Light, Redeeming Light, and Rekindled Light. Marilyn is also a contributor to the Daily Guideposts Devotions book.

Join the conversation: Has God ever taken you on a journey on an unexpected path?