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?

Our Words Matter

by Edie Melson

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.                                                                                                                            Proverbs 16:24 ESV

 I love words. I take joy in reading a book where the author transports me to another place. I love movies and plays where the dialogue pierces my heart with healing truth. Most of all, I love it when my words bring comfort and joy to someone else.

God loves words too. In Genesis 1:1 we see how He speaks the world into being. In John 1:14 Jesus is referred to as “The Word became flesh…”. Throughout the Bible we see the power in words, and the warnings of the power—good and bad—they contain.

While I’m careful with the words I write and the words I speak to others, I discovered something else.

I’m not as careful when I choose the words I say to myself. I’m guilty of saying things to me that I wouldn’t allow someone to say to the worst person on earth. And all that negative self-talk can have a huge impact on me. With those cutting words comes a willingness to believe what’s being said. Believing the lies I spoke to myself was destroying me.

Maybe you do the same thing.

“I’m so stupid.”

“I should just quit, I’ll never amount to anything.”

“I’m ugly.”

“I don’t know why anyone would want to hang out with me.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

These lies are not from God, for His view of me is very different. When self-condemning thoughts like these cross my mind, the best anecdote is to speak God’s truth over the lie. I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). God has uniquely gifted me with an ability to serve Him and build up His Church (1 Corinthians 12:7). He delights in me (Psalm 149:4).

Statistics tell us that when we speak negative things to someone close to us, it takes anywhere from eight to sixteen positive things to outweigh one negative remark. We apply that statistic to our kids, our husbands, even our friends—but we ignore the fact that it also holds true when we’re speaking to ourselves.

The truth is, each of us is unique and precious to God. He paid the ultimate price to bring us back to Him. How can we despise what God esteems? Think about how different your outlook might be if you spoke respectfully to yourself?

Edie-MelsonAbout the author: Find your voice, live your story…is the foundation of Edie Melson’s message, whether she’s addressing parents, military families, readers of fiction or writers. As an author, blogger, and speaker, she’s encouraged and challenged audiences across the country and around the world. Her latest book, While My Child is Away; Prayers for While Were Apart is available at local retailers and online. Connect with her further at www.EdieMelson.comand on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What negative thoughts plague you? What truth from God can help you combat those condemnations?