Have you ever said something and wished that you could take it back? Unfortunately the things we say are far more revealing than just words. This is why words are so hurtful. Probably the single greatest cause of broken relationships today come from words that never should have been spoken.
There is an old story that illustrates this reality. A young man during the middle ages went to a monk saying “I have sinned by saying slanderous statements about someone. What should I do now?” The monk replied. “put a feather on every doorstep in town.” The young man did just that. He then came back to the monk wondering if there was anything else he could do. The monk said “go back and pick up all those feathers” The young man replied excitedly, “that is impossible! by now the wind will have blown them all over town!” the monk said, “so has your slanderous words become impossible to retrieve”
Proverbs 12.17 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts.
Once said our words can inflict great and untold harm upon others. The fact that we misuse and abuse words and that others have done so against us tells us of the brokenness of this world. The famous Bob Dylan says:
Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken
James tells us that the tongue is like a small spark can set a forest ablaze by creating incredible damage.
How do we do this?
Slander: Lying about a person’s character or conduct
Gossip: Spreading misinformation about a person or even unkindness about a person (this can even be perceived as truthful but should not be shared)
Half truth: One side of the story, telling things in such a way that you make yourself be perceived to look good and the other look bad.
Unhealthy Criticism: I just see things the way it is, it is my job to let people know if something is not right.
Giving Ear to all of the above: To listen to these things and not stand in defense of what is right is equally as sinful. Proverbs 17.4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
We need redeemed, because this sin is not just in others but it is in me and you. We wield our tongue like a sword looking inflict pain. The most revealing part about it is that what we say about tells us more about us than them.
Proverbs 12.25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
As Paul Tripp says "word problems are heart problems". Jesus tells us the same thing when he says in Luke 6.43-45 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit... The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Our words reveal the depth of our soul and that we need healing. Jesus brings the good word that brings release to the soul of man that releases the guilt, shame, anxiety, and condemnation because every word that came from Jesus’ mouth was perfect and true. He tells us that he is the way, he is the truth, he is the life, and he bears witness of the reality of God the Father.
Where we have sinned with our words Jesus saves with his. He saves us.
Proverbs 12.18-19 the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever.
From the lips of our everlasting God are words of life that purchased us from death to life. We should think before we speak, especially as we realize our word could inflict pain on others. Here is some advice you may have heard before, so remind yourself of it and ask God to apply it to your word problem.
Is it true? If it is not true then you should not even entertain the idea of speaking it.
Is it kind? Kindness does not mean someone will not take offense to your words, kindness means that you evaluate what you say as loving. One of the most kind things said to a friend is the truth no matter how hard.
Is it necessary? Does this need to be said? If it does say it, if not do not. Ask God for help in determining it.
Is it helpful? What will it accomplish? What is at stake if you do not say it, what is at stake if you do? Our words should be that which benefit others, build them up and not tear them down.
I am grateful for the people who speak truth in my life, like anyone else I find it difficult. The people I listen to the most I believe weigh their words carefully. If you are always going about speaking your mind to everyone about everything eventually your words won’t mean a thing. if you consider your words carefully, they will endure forever and healing and life will come as a result.
But 1st, Repentance…. If you want to get there, you have to recongnize that you need help. Ultimately that your word problem is a sin problem that Jesus died for. Jesus is our delete button.
Ray Ortlund writes:
What happened at the cross? On the cross Jesus loved us so much that his sacrifice deleted the damning record before God of every foolish word you and I have ever spoken. He took the divine condemnation for our lies, insults, gossip, put-downs, bragging, false promises, and griping, as well as our guilty silence when we should have spoken up. He took it all onto himself and hit the delete button. Look at him on his cross, dying for what you and I have said and left unsaid. See him there, trust him, and you are finally free of it all forever.
Romans 5.8 God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.