Words can destroy lives, or they can rebuild them. A hammer can be used to build a house or to tear down a house. Our tongues can speak an encouraging word, or it can curse some terrible destructive words. What does the Word of God say about the tongue?
1Peter 3:10 “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
Colossians 4:6 “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Proverbs 10:19 “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
The list of scriptures addressing our speech in God’s Word goes on and on. There are too many to list here. It must be very important to God for us to think before we speak.
Our tongues can start a raging fire in the lives of many in a very short period. I cannot express to all of you the importance of being slow to speak and quick to listen. I can attest from experience I have failed in this area of my life many times. When I call a company about a problem I am having and I end up in a foreign country talking to someone I can barely understand, it is very frustrating. I can become upset fast. What if I focused on the person answering my call for a second? They are more than likely getting a very small wage and happy to have a job. They might have a very substandard living condition at home. Food is more than likely nothing compared to the availability I have. They are simply doing the best they can with what little resources they have at their disposal.
Have you ever been able to take back what you say and put those words back in your mouth? Not Likely. A rumor can cause a firestorm of destruction in a person’s life in a matter of hours. Trying to take back spoken words would be like dumping a feather pillow in a windstorm and trying to find the feathers and put them back in the pillow.
It is difficult to defend yourself against words because you can’t see them coming. They are invisible but sound out volumes. They are spoken behind closed doors or even on cell phones. Back in the day the party lines we used could easily be used to start rumors.
Ever had your mouth washed out with Lava soap? I did many times as a child. There are some words parents will not allow children to say no matter what. I remember one time at a company meeting at AT&T I said “bull**it.” My boss took me outside and she told me a story about what her momma taught her as a child. “Anytime you feel the need to say that ‘s’ word you say Sugar-Honey-Ice-Tea!” I have never forgotten that to this day.
Students on my bus can say some very harsh and damaging words to each other. Sometimes they even say it to me as their driver. I do not tolerate it though. I tell their parents and ask them to teach them some more appropriate words to use around kindergartners. We all know kids will mimic a parent in words and actions at times in their lives. It can be embarrassing too.
How damaging where the words used over two thousand years ago. “Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him.” Jesus came to save their souls and they wanted to call those words out. How sad that must have made God.
Sometimes a child can use the words. ”I wish you were dead.” A very sad statement to hear from your child or brother or sister. One year a sister said that to her sister. The following summer her sister died. She now lives with those destructive words forever sounding in her ears.
Let us all be careful when we choose what we say. This old saying is still true, ”if you don’t have something good to say about someone then don’t say anything at all.”