Do you ever have seasons in your life where a theme starts to come up!? For example, last year, almost on a weekly basis, the word “abide” was showing up everywhere in my life. From multiple different devotionals (online and in books), in the class I’m taking, scripture I read, podcasts I listened to. Obviously God was teaching me about abiding in Him, and what that looks like.
Well another theme that’s been surfacing in my life the last few months is the power of the tongue and words. We have SO much power to lift up in a beautiful way or completely tear down in the ugliest of ways. It’s a REALLY big deal. The bible says in Matthew 12:36–I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak.
Whoa. I don’t say that to try to scare you, but seriously! That’s kind of an intense reality. Someday we will stand before the Lord and be accountable for our words. SO thankful for undeserved grace. The world we live in today has instant access to say WHATEVER you want, immediately, especially through social media. In a matter of seconds you can post something to facebook, instagram, or twitter (actually you can simultaneously post to multiple sites like this) and once it’s out there it’s done. Sure, you can go back and delete it, but chances are a few eyes have already seen it and it can’t be erased.
1. Say what you need to say.
If you have something to say to someone….say it….but just say it to them! Don’t post some sort of cryptic or mysterious facebook status to try and “get your point across”. It’s probably not going to be productive in the long run. It leaves the mind to wander and fill in the gaps (whether those gap fillers are true or not) and it’s going to hurt someones feelings, most likely. We are quickly losing the art of sitting down, face to face, and having raw conversations with people. Adults: teenagers and kids are watching you, be an example to them! It mine mean you have to eat some humble pie and step up and apologize to someone, or be the bigger person, even if it doesn’t seem right, fair or just….but what a great lesson!
Think before you speak! How many times have you said something to someone’s face (or behind their backs) that you came to regret! It’s way easier said than done, but if we don’t stop and think about what we are about to say to someone, especially if things are heated or in disagreement, we can avoid A LOT of ugliness in the aftermath. Just think about what you’re going to say before you say it. It doesn’t mean you can’t disagree with people or that you have to even be on the same page, but be intentional about what you say to people, let your words be spoken in love and let the be constructive.
3. Don’t Gossip. Just don’t do it.
we’ve all been there. It’s so easy to get caught up in gossip. No matter who you are and where you go it’s all around. But what is it accomplishing? ESPECIALLY if you won’t go to the person, what are you accomplishing by talking to other people?! I’ll tell you…nothing. You aren’t accomplishing anything. If you have something to say about someone say it to them! There is a fine line between getting feedback from people about something and gossiping. Don’t cross the line, it gets too messy.
What’s the purpose in complaining? Trust me, I”m guilty of it, but why do we do it?! Rather than complaining why don’t we just do something constructive about whatever it is we feel the need to complain about!? Complaining about it isn’t going to change anything, it’s just going to make things worse…and in the process it’s going to bring other people down with us! One thing our leadership always tells us is to “Complain up”. For example, if you’re unhappy at work it’s pointless to complain to your coworkers, they can’t fix it for you, you’re just adding to dysfunction and causing division….go to the person above you and talk to them! Complaining is just silly if you’re not talking to the people who have the authority to make a change.
5. Speak LIFE!
Be an encouragement to people. LOVE them! WE are called to love one another. Out of everything in the world God chose 10 commandments….and one of them is to love. It’s a big deal! Use words to speak life into the people around you, love them, encourage them, speak truth (even if it’s hard truth). If the motives behind your words are not pure and in love, don’t say it.
6. A time to be silent and a time to speak up!
Sometimes it’s ok to just be silent, it’s actually better! Find the balance though. There is a time when silence is good, but there is also a time when you need to speak up about things. My guess is your gut will usually let you know what you should do what….listen to that! Don’t be too afraid of confrontation that you ignore problems, but don’t be too quick to confront that you don’t leave any opportunity for the spirit to move! You might think you know something, but if you don’t know the whole story maybe you shouldn’t say anything because you might end up looking pretty ridiculous when it’s all said and done. Trust that the Lord is bigger than any situation, and HE knows what you don’t….give it to Him and ask HIM to guide you and reveal truth to you.
7. Seek the Lord!
Let the Lord guide your tongue. Pray that HE will be honored and glorified through your words….if you’re not reflecting Christ…maybe you shouldn’t say what you’re about to say! Take it to the Lord and let him direct you!
These are all things the Lord is rocking me on. I mean, ROCKING ME. All of the points mentioned above are things that the Lord has brought to my attention, for me to learn. I decided to share them in case anyone else struggles with these. You’re not alone! I’m thankful for a God who refines me and who forgives and loves me despite the ugly person I can be sometimes. These are really hard lessons, that I’m STILL trying to get. Multiple times a day, i mean, MULTIPLE, i have to stop and think before I speak, or I have to apologize for not doing that.
Our tongue is a powerful weapon, we can be so destructive with our words. If you’re struggling with your job, church, family, friends, enemies, or that annoying guy in the car behind you…just pause! Take a deep breath. And give these things to the Lord. Let HIM guide your words in a way that will produce good fruit and growth, not destruction.