“Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit— you choose.” Proverbs 18:21
Words can be kind or they can be cruel.
Words can either be encouraging or disheartening.
Words can be helpful or harmful.
Words have the ability to build a person up or tear a person down.
Words can heal a heart or break one.
Words can either revive a crushed spirit or discourage someone who is down and out.
There is power behind the words you speak. What type of impact your words are producing is ultimately, your choice. The Bible says that our words have the ability to bring life or death. I can attest to being impacted both positively and negatively from someone’s words. I have also been the person whose words have blessed someone or caused damage.
I think now, more than ever, we should be intentional with our words. The Bible says we are to be quick to listen and slow to speak. (James 1:19) Imagine the change we could produce if we practiced this verse more diligently on the daily. What impact could we have if we took the time to think things through or prayed about how to respond instead of reacting impulsively? How many conflicts or wounds could we avoid if we stepped back for a minute, instead of acting too quickly? In a society where the norm is to rip each other to shreds to prove our point, which spectrum do you land on?
Words can be hard to take back and if we’re not careful, could potentially have lasting effects on a person. I was fortunate enough to not have a parent growing up who cut me down or someone tell me I had no potential. The words that cut deep, for me, were ones about my physical appearance. I can remember as early as middle school being made fun of for my looks to recently dating someone who took digs at me. I carried those insecurities around for years, until I found my true identity in Christ (see previous post 😉). Those words dug holes in my self-confidence and made me second guess everything about myself. Was I girlie enough? Should I change the way I dress?
On the contrary, words can be so uplifting that it has the potential to change a person’s situation. “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4) God has placed amazing leaders and individuals in my life whose words keep me going. A few months ago, I hit a rough patch and didn’t even know where to begin or describe how I was feeling. I remember having coffee with my friend Judy and her encouraging words literally altered my perspective and ignited a spark in me. I will forever remember that conversation. She not only pointed me back to the Word of God, but gave me words to hold on to when I couldn’t find them myself.
That is the type of person I aspire to be. I want to be someone who speaks life into people that when they walk away from our conversation, they feel moved and inspired. I want to build people up through kind, hopeful, comforting words and point them to Jesus. I want to be someone who is adding value to a person’s life, not being detrimental.
I thought about making this a “How To…” post, but ultimately it comes down to us and our decisions. We can’t control what others say, but we can control our speech. I don’t know what words have been spoken over you, but you can change the way you speak to others. You might have caused or are causing hurt with your choice of words, but it’s never too late to replace them with words that can heal. James 1:19 is probably not something that comes naturally, at least for me, but it’s an intentional attribute anyone must practice if they want to be someone who is life-giving. What kind of words are coming out of your mouth? Are you building people up or tearing them down? Are you sowing words of fruit or spreading words of toxicity?