Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3
"Peace and Love" - Photographed by my granddaughter, Shiloh Boivin when she was 5 years old
A few days ago I read a very sad article posted on a news
website about some Mexican tourists who were shot accidentally by the Egyptian
military. Apparently, these military men
thought the tourists were terrorists. As
troubling as that was to read what I found shocking on top of this news item was the
response of readers in the comment section below the article.
The article itself was written sympathetically which, for
me, made the responses even more startling.
There were over 200 comments making jokes and spewing racial hatred
about the victims of this accidental shooting.
Truly, I was so shocked I could hardly believe my eyes. Just when I think nothing could surprise me
in terms of the fallen nature of this world something comes along and takes my
Words.....it's just words, right?
No. It's far
more. It speaks of what's in the heart
and conscience. "Whatever is in your heart determines what you say."
Luke 6:45 (NLT) So naturally, it follows that when a heart is full of the fruit of the Spirit the mouth will speak words of love and kindness, words that are gentle, expressions of faith and patience and will have the wisdom to use self-control. Of course the opposite is also true and if a heart is filled with envy or jealousy, anger or bitterness, uncleanness or lewdness, these things too will find their way to the surface in the form of words.
We have all spoken carelessly at times and if our hearts are
God-ward we find ourselves repenting very quickly. We know that words have, and are, LIFE and we must use them to communicate, build up and bless others.
Many years ago I heard a woman named Betty Maltz talk about
her experience of dying and seeing heaven.
I have never forgotten hearing and meeting her. All these years later I clearly recall her
sweet spirit and the presence of the Holy Spirit while she was speaking. She said one of the things she saw in heaven
was the prayers of God's people and the words themselves were three dimensional -- the
words were living entities.
Since that time I have on a number of occasions been made
truly aware that all our words have life.....or death. "Life and death are in the power of the
tongue." Proverbs 18:21 We either speak
life into someone's life or into a situation or we speak death because words
have power. Kind and encouraging words are like a soft hand soothing a fevered
brow whereas cruel words are like claws that shred a person's back. Nice Christian people would never consider
shredding the skin of someone's back literally but think it's nothing more than
a guilty pleasure to have a 'good gossip.'
We all know that from the way people's words have hurt us in
our lives or the way a stinging insult can stay with us for years and
subsequently affect how we make decisions because words have a long term
effect. If you were hurt badly by a
cruel comment perhaps it's created fear that has prevented you from confidently
progressing or even shut you down.
Think of an example of the child who is
constantly told he is stupid. Does the
child progress as he could have? Does he
feel he's too stupid to apply for further education? Did the world just lose a fine doctor or
scientist? That's only one possible
example of how words can speak 'death'.
We really need to understand our words are a very big deal
to God and that includes what we say about others and what we say about Him.
Then those who feared the Lord spoke with each other,
the Lord listened to what they said.
His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written
to record the names of those
Him and loved to think about Him.
Malachi 3: 16
Did you read that?
The Lord is listening to what
you're saying!! Surely you already knew
that but perhaps you need this reminder.
We all need a reminder and quite regularly. If you were to walk through your day with the
following verse on a post-it note stuck to your nose how would you change your
I tell you, on the day
of judgment people will give account
for every careless word
Does it make you cringe to consider that?
If we think of everything we've said being recorded to hear
played back to us in eternity it's enough to make us clap our hands over our
mouths isn't it? I know when I look back
over my own life there have been times when I've said things that now embarrass
me horribly. Perhaps because I've
learned (and continue to learn) this lesson the hard way I'm writing with such
earnestness. I want you to avoid the
A number of years ago I had a lovely friend and both of us
were in an exciting time when the Lord was revealing wonderful things to us
from His Word. We would get on the phone
most mornings and share with great enthusiasm what He'd been showing us. However, at times the conversation would turn
to things that were happening at church and then devolve from there into
gossip. We recognized this and made a pact
that the moment either one of us would find the conversation
descending into such negative territory we would say 'Gossip!' and instantly
stop.We were training ourselves to
recognize what we were doing and to stop doing so immediately.It was a life-changingtraining exercise and one that continues to
stay with me.
But there's more.
Jesus said, "If you call someone an idiot you are in
danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone you are in danger of
the fires of hell." Matthew 5: 22 (NLT)
People don't curse other people these days do they? Certainly, they do. The example of the child who grew up thinking
he was too stupid was, in essence, living with a curse because his belief about
himself was so greatly affected by words.
And what about the dreadful racial slurs I read on that
website article? Are racial slurs not cursing?
What in the world are people thinking when they say these horrible
How many times have I heard it said with a prideful
attitude, 'well I just have to speak what's on my mind."
Just because you have a negative opinion doesn't mean you
should necessarily offer it. In fact,
for the sake of blessing in your own life you'd be a lot safer learning to
control your tongue.
Okay....this is beginning to sound like a rant but only in the hope of
making a point and that point is that we all have power to bless or curse with the words we
Look at what happened with Ezekiel and the dry bones in Chapter 37. The Lord only told him to speak to the wind in order to breathe
life into them again. When Jesus was healing people often He would speak words of
life and they were healed. It was the
Lord Himself who spoke the world into
being. Words have, and are, life.
We say to young children who are frustrated and on the point
of a tantrum, 'use your words.' We want
the child to express what she's feeling so we can help her through her emotions
as well as learn to communicate.
However, she's only a very small child and is in the process of learning
HOW to use her words. As adults we
should have learned by now not only how to communicate well but also to do so
with empathy--even when we're frustrated.
Christians are very quick to speak of the abomination of sins in the lives of others but what about this verse from Proverbs 6:
There are six things
seven that are an
abomination to Him:
a lying tongue,
and hands that shed
a heart that devises
feet that make haste to
run to evil,
a false witness who
breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord
Three of these things listed involve the tongue and it says
that not only does God hate them but
they are an abomination. We simply must
be honest with ourselves more often and recognize that we all have times when
our words betray the darkness that still resides in our hearts.
So perhaps I need to turn the searchlight inward on myself
with this post.
Rather, speaking the
truth in love,
we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head,
Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together
by every joint with
which it is equipped, when each part is
working properly, makes the body grow
so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4: 15
Am I writing in love?
This question is vital. I know what I'm feeling as I write this is a
kind of desperation to say that we all need to be aware of the power we wield
when we speak because it's so important to the Lord. However, if I search my heart and find I'm
speaking what could be considered a rebuke and I'm not doing it with genuine
love then I'm no better than a self-righteous hypocrite.
We need to remember to ask ourselves that question when we feel the urge
to 'speak out.'
Use your imagination for a moment and think of ways that
your words can build others up. Think of the ways you can speak blessing and
hope into their lives, the way your words can breathe life into a troubled soul
with encouragement. Think of ways you can speak life over a situation you see
as a problem. Cultivate an attitude of
mercy and speak in a merciful way.