28 Jun Choosing Words Wisely
Words. They are a necessity in life. From the time the alarm clock sounds in the morning until it is set again in the evening, we use words. Our words help us navigate life, express our basic needs, and articulate our heart’s deepest desires.
Whether written or spoken, words have the ability to build us up or tear us down, and in a moment, we realize the power they carry.
I haven’t always believed in the power of my words. If you know me at all, you know that I have an innate ability to “open mouth and insert foot” more frequently than I like to admit. I can hear something in my mind, but as soon as the thought comes out of my mouth, I quickly realize my words did not communicate my intent. And in that instance, I probably should apologize and keep quiet. Instead, I often choose to use more words to explain that I didn’t mean at all what the other person heard. I have lived most of my life believing that this is just the way that I am made and that if I apologize enough then what real harm is there. But, as I have been married a little longer and my daughters get a little older, I am becoming more and more aware of just how much harm (or good) my words bring—and I get to choose them wisely (or not) every day.
“Instead of choosing to be a tree of life, I was not only crushing my husband’s spirit, I was squelching the Holy Spirit in our marriage.”
Proverbs 15:4 NIV tells us that “the soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit”. In this verse we see two opposing outcomes of the choices we make surrounding our words. I have quite frankly failed many times in this area and most of my failings have been in my marriage. I entered marriage believing that I could retaliate and belittle with my words, and my husband should just absorb them all. I used them to wound and offend in exchange for a feeling of gratification that I had won in the moment. At times, I used my words to manipulate the situation in order to get what I wanted. I thought that I could just throw them out there and they would never destroy because they are just “words” after all. Instead of choosing to be a tree of life, I was not only crushing my husband’s spirit, I was squelching the Holy Spirit in our marriage. I lived year after year believing that my words had little consequence until my marriage fell into the deepest darkness my life has known. In retrospect, I am grateful for that time—not because it was easy, but because God began to work on my heart.
“The Lord knows the words of my heart, and I can trust that He will bring them to my lips in His timing.”
God has been faithful to slowly and unfailingly reveal to me the power of my words and how I should use them to edify and breathe life into my husband and daughters. I have a choice to make every day, sometimes minute by minute, and I still have times of failure. But if I am to live out the gospel through my words then sometimes that means dying to myself and choosing silence. I don’t have to be heard or be right all of the time. The Lord knows the words of my heart, and I can trust that He will bring them to my lips in His timing. He has also shown me that my faithfulness in the area of my words will determine my effectiveness not only in my home but in my community as well. I must be the same person all of the time, constantly speaking with discernment and wisdom. Most importantly, my words should always be laced with love. Loving words and honest words are not mutually exclusive. I can speak honest words lovingly and with kindness. Christ never sacrificed the truth for love—He always spoke them both.
As women, we have been uniquely gifted to speak love. We are made to invite, nurture, and partner with those around us. How can your words enhance or hinder these capabilities? What relationship is in need of reconciliation in your life? How could you use your words to bring restoration between you and that person?
Words are powerful and persuasive, and they tend to linger long after they are spoken. Whether they are used in God-honoring or selfish ways, words aren’t neutral. They are productive. Proverbs says that words kill and words give life. This means we have both magnificent power and responsibility at the tip of our tongue. If we hope to speak in ways that honor God and nurtures life in another, we need God to change us from the inside out.
Save the date for our new Ezer study, A Woman’s Words, launching in September.