By Andrew Calabrese
Our words are incredibly powerful. In fact, Solomon said this about our words in Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue:” To summarize, Solomon was saying that the words we speak can be life-giving words or they can be life-taking words.
The Apostle James had something to say about the power of our words as well. In James 3:3-5, he talked about how small things (like our words) can make a significant impact. James said, “Behold, we put bits in the horses ‘mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.” A bit in a horses’ mouth and the rudder of a ship—these are small things that make a big difference.
Now keep that in mind as it pertains to the power of our words and the power of our tongue because James goes on to say this in verse five: “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth.” The tongue—it is a small thing that makes a big difference. There is power of life and death in our words. You can speak life-giving words. or you can speak life-taking words.
For example, if you show me a marriage that is struggling, I can almost guarantee you that what others will see is an abundance of life-taking words. On the other hand, if you show me a marriage that is doing well, then I promise you will see a multitude of life-giving words.
Consider somebody that you don’t like to be around. Maybe they make you feel small and unimportant; maybe it’s a boss that drives you crazy. I can almost guarantee you what you’ll find is an abundance of life-taking words. On the other hand, consider someone you love to be around—they build you up; they are a source of encouragement to you. I’m sure what you will see is plenty of life-giving words.
It is evident from Scripture that Jesus desires His followers to speak words of life to others. So here are two very simple yet powerful thoughts concerning our words that I hope will be a help to you:
1. If you can’t say something helpful, then don’t.
Don’t say anything at all. If you can’t say something encouraging, then don’t say anything at all. Skip it! The Apostle Paul said it this way in Ephesians 4:29, he said, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Some of us, if we would just apply this one verse to our lives, to our marriages, to our parenthood, to our work relationships, to our friendships, what a positive difference it would make! My paraphrase of this verse would be, “If you can’t say something helpful—shut thy trap.” It may be silly, but you get the point.
Our world is already filled with people who are negative, critical, and quick to point out the worst in others. And as Jesus followers, we shouldn’t follow that trend. This leads me to my second encouragement:
2. If you think something good, then say it.
This is a rule that I have been trying to live out in my life. Any time I think something good about some one else, about God, or about my circumstances, I want to give it life by saying it. Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Notice, Solomon did not say, “Pleasant thoughts are as honeycomb.” What did he say? Pleasant words…
I can have a good thought about you, but you would never know unless I said it. So if I set it free, then the words have power to give life and bless. I am very, very thankful for my Pastor and people like him because he is very, very encouraging! I honestly believe that his words of life help me to perform better in what I do here at the church each day. He doesn’t just think, “Andrew we are thankful to have you and Katie here; you’ve been a great asset to our team.” He has said (several times), “Andrew, we are thankful to have you and Katie here; you’ve been a great asset to our team.” And those little deposits, I believe, planted a seed in my soul that now have a harvest in what I do.
Any time you think something good, say it. Words are so powerful. When you think something good, send a text, post a comment, pick up the phone and call them, say it, write them a note…make it a rule! You want to change your relationships? Every time you think something good, say it. Don’t ever hold a blessing back. Why rob anyone else of a blessing by giving them life?
Your words are powerful. They have power to give life and to bring death. May God help us to speak words full of grace, full of love, seasoned with salt, so that others may be built up rather than torn down. How will you speak to those around you today?