08 Aug Fighting Words
Growing up, a lesson my parents taught me over and over again was “think before you speak.”
Emotion-driven and selfishly seeking to be heard over others, there was a reason this was a constant point of discipline for me. As a child, I didn’t understand the full impact of my words, nor did I fully understand the concept from Luke 6:45, “What you say flows from what is in your heart.”
As I got older, I became more aware of how careless and insensitive words can carry destructive power.
James 3 paints a picture of the destructiveness of the tongue, how it is filled with evil, spreading like a fire, and leaving ruin in its wake. It uses vivid analogies, such as the tongue being a rudder controlling the direction of a ship, or being a flame, setting on fire the entire course of life. Because of our sinful nature, our words are damaging and harmful.
“Because of our sinful nature, our words are damaging and harmful.”
The Bible is clear: our words are powerful. It is impossible to tame the tongue. No one is exempt from this sin struggle.
We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. James 3:2 (NIV)
However, through God’s transformation of our hearts, turning them from self-focus to focus on Himself and others, our words can be redeemed, and He can use them to be powerful for his glory.
“Through God’s transformation of our hearts, turning them from self-focus to focus on Himself and others, our words can be redeemed, and He can use them to be powerful for his glory.”
Redeemed speech can be powerful not to destroy but rather to build, strengthen, uplift, spur on, partner with, and fight for those around us.
Recently, I’ve observed and experienced people truly fighting for the cause of others with their words. The power behind their words still existed, but, overflowing from hearts filled with grace and the Holy Spirit, they were building and strengthening and pleading for the cause of others.
In one instance, a friend deflected a slanderous comment by identifying with the person being talked about, suggesting that the person’s shortcomings are not far off from their own, and then redirecting the conversation, not allowing it to wallow in a place of gossip. In that moment, that friend did not receive, absorb, or add to the gossip, but simply became a surface where it couldn’t land, protecting and shielding the person who it was about.
Similarly, I recently found myself feeling very caught off guard in a conversation. I was flustered and embarrassed, not knowing how to respond to a particular comment that was made, and a friend jumped into the midst of the situation with me, banishing shame and validating my feelings in the moment, then creating a joke to turn the attention off of me, preventing myself or anyone else from feeling uncomfortable in that moment.
In another instance, I recently watched someone thoughtfully connect people, thinking outside of herself, her needs, and her world to warmly invite others in and identify ways they could uniquely encourage, relate to, or meet needs of one another. There was nothing in it for her, but her thoughtful words helped create and spur on meaningful relationships.
Each of these seemingly small instances carried weight beyond that moment. Their life-giving language looked like carefully considered and strategically chosen words that were owning the cause of the kingdom and others.
Due to the brokenness of this world, our words still carry the ability to destroy, but in Christ, our words also have power to be vigorously life-giving.
“Due to the brokenness of this world, our words still carry the ability to destroy, but in Christ, our words also have power to be vigorously life-giving.”
In a reality where the kingdom of darkness is fighting to steal, kill, and destroy souls, our words, driven and directed by God’s truth and overflowing from His love and grace, can be powerful for the kingdom of God.
Please click here to find out about upcoming Ezer small group studies on A Woman’s Words at Grace Church.
Audrey is a recent graduate of Clemson University and is now embarking on post-grad life in Greenville, SC. She enjoys the outdoors, spending time with friends and family, and is proud to say she finally learned to drink her coffee black. Audrey attends our Pelham Campus.