The Gift of Words

by Shirley Brosius

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14 BSB

After taking in mail for a friend while she vacationed, she sent me a gift—six small LED flashlights. How practical, I thought, as I distributed them throughout our home. When I called to thank her, she said, “You know why I got you those flashlights, don’t you?” She explained that once, when our power had failed and I was caught without a light, I told her I was going to have my husband put flashlights in every room of the house. She wanted to furnish those lights. My friend remembered my words months after I had spoken . . . and forgotten . . . them.

Our words—whether delightful or derogatory—impact others. They plant seeds. And their words affect us. I still remember the words of a patient pastor to always read the Bible in context when I, as a new Christian, visited him with questions about Bible passages. I still remember the words of teachers who told me I could go to college to become a teacher even though I lacked finances.

A woman once approached me at a church bazaar to tell me how much it meant to her when, 40 years earlier, I invited her to serve on her high school yearbook staff. She said she would never have had the confidence to join had I not encouraged her. It turned out to be such a positive experience for her. Truth be told, she was doing me, as yearbook advisor, a favor. She was an excellent student, and I knew she would be an asset to the staff. But little did I know how insecure she felt.

The words we hear may bless our lives, but I also hear the cruel words of teasing classmates echo across the decades. They knocked down my self-esteem and made me feel bad about getting good grades and having a lanky body.

An older sister often joked that my legs were my redeeming feature. I suppose she meant it as a compliment, but it made me wonder what was wrong with the rest of me. Why did the rest of my body need redemption?

In his letter, James warned of the destruction words could cause: “See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tone is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and set on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:5-6 NASB). Just a few misplaced words have potential to change a life, for better or worse.  

We dole out words on a daily basis—to children, spouses, coworkers, friends and even store clerks. We communicate through emails, text messages, phone calls and face-to-face conversations. Do we think about the messages we send through the words we choose? Do we realize that we plant seeds or sow weeds with our words?

What words do we allow to enter our minds? Do the characters we watch on television show grace or do they promote crudeness and rudeness in relationships? Do our children learn words of disrespect for authority by the shows we allow them to watch? Even game show hosts may promote sarcasm and disdain for the inept.

As they say, “garbage in/garbage out.” We need to watch not only our own words but the words of others to evaluate how they affect us and our families. Do they make you doubt your uniqueness as a person made in the image of God?

Go out today and encourage someone to use their God-given abilities to step up to the plate, whatever that plate may be. Mind your words because others mind them as well. Plant seeds and block weeds from growing in your garden of relationships.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

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About the author: An author and speaker from Millersburg, Pennsylvania, Shirley Brosius has written Sisterhood of Faith: 365 Life-Changing Stories about Women Who Made a Difference and coauthored Turning Guilt Trips into Joy Rides. She speaks at women’s events throughout the east as a member of Friends of the Heart, three women who share God’s love through messages, skits and song. Shirley has a daughter waiting in heaven, and she enjoys passing on inspirational thoughts and books to two married sons and five grandchildren.

Join the conversation: What impacts have the words of others had on your life?

Jiminy Crickets!

by Terri Clark @TerriClarkTCM

Have you ever had a cricket in your house? Next to flies and mosquitoes, they are the most annoying insects. When I hear one chirping, I have to find it and put it outside where it belongs. I don’t like bugs in my house, especially noisy ones.

Recently, I was talking with a friend of mine. Her three little boys have pet lizards living in aquariums on the shelf in their bedroom. Pet lizards are creepy enough in my book, but what’s worse is they eat live crickets. Natasha said they buy the crickets from a local feed store. Fishermen buy them for bait and little boys get them for their pet lizards. They come in a canister of 100.

A few weeks ago, Isaiah, her oldest son, fed five crickets to the lizards, put the canister back on the shelf, and went to bed. In the morning, when Natasha came down the hall, she noticed a cricket crawling across the floor. She thought one must have gotten out of the lizards’ aquarium. Then she saw another. And another. Opening the boy’s bedroom door, she found crickets crawling, hopping, and chirping everywhere.

Their kitten, who’d been shut up in the room all night, had found the crickets and knocked the canister off the dresser, breaking it open. They’d all made their escape. Natasha and the boys scrambled to catch as many as they could, but it was too late to get most of them. They’d already found hiding places. I can’t imagine having ninety-five chirping crickets loose in the house!

Once they were set free, these little bugs are almost impossible to recapture—they have a way of disappearing into the woodwork. You can’t see them, they’re small and might seem harmless enough, but the noise they generate can be deafening.

If you think about it, the words we speak can be like all those chirping crickets. Too often, even us Jesus followers, tend to say things we wish we hadn’t. But once it’s out of the mouth, those words can’t be recaptured. And they have a way of coming back to haunt us later. Like crickets, words keep on chirping long after they’re released.

How often have we heard the phrase, “All I said was…” after being offended by an offhanded remark? More than once I’ve lain in bed hearing my own words chirping in the night, thinking and worrying about what I said to someone earlier. Feelings have been hurt, relationships broken, friendships destroyed and even jobs have been lost over words thoughtlessly spoken.

The Bible says the tongue though one of the smallest parts of our bodies, can be like a spark that sets a whole forest ablaze (James 3:5).

In fact, the Bible has a lot to say about how we should be careful about the words we speak. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” And 1 Peter 3:10 says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

There are many more Scriptures that tell us God wants us to think before we speak and consider how our words affect others.

Once again, it’s all about loving God and loving people—the two greatest commandments. Today, let’s try not to knock that can of crickets of the shelf. Ask the Lord to help you and remind you of the effect of your words—before you speak them.

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.                                                                                                                                Proverbs 29:20 NASB

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Jiminy Crickets! – thoughts on the power of our words from @TerriClarkTCM on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Terri ClarkAbout the author: Terri Clark works with women to prepare and equip them to receive God and the blessings He wants to produce in their lives. She began to answer God’s call on her life in 1994 and has since impacted women all over the world with His news of salvation, edification, and healing.

Her book, Fanning the Flame: Reigniting Your Faith in God, identifies and addresses the issues which most affect a believer’s spiritual flame: the busyness of life, Christian service, pride, and worldly temptations. Join her in this pilgrimage and reignite your spiritual lamp with a fresh, empowering faith–a faith that will stand through a time of testing.

Join the conversation: Have you asked God to guard your words as the holiday celebration approaches?