To Measure Our Words

Are you there yet?  Are you beginning to get that bad taste in your mouth whenever you read a post or comment on Facebook?  Do you get angry, and if or when you do, are you able to take a step back and think first and speak later?  Or do you take a jab and then toss a few more jabs their way?

Friend the world is literally changing right before your eyes, but can you see it?  Do you seek to add to the problem or are you determined to be a part of the solution?  The list of questions is constantly growing, and sad to say, many are refusing to grow up and act like an adult. It is dizzying!

To take a page from Charles Spurgeon, a wise man who came to Christ, who found mercy and forgiveness along his journey, and proudly proclaimed his thankfulness to God for the gift of grace.  He knew when he accepted Christ, that he was forgiven, and he was quick to confess his past transgressions because the weight was lifted – the shame was removed by the blood of Jesus.  He said let his sins be written across the sky because he was now free not bound any longer.

I am choosing to admit my past sin in this area.  I know I have been forgiven, but I choose to say this now to help someone leave the past and start anew.  I was always very opinionated, and I let others know it.  I got offended multiple times it seems every hour on the hour, I yelled, I cursed, threw tantrums, humiliated others, bashed people and their ideas and the list went on and on (much like my blowhard personality).  Oh yeah, I had a voice and I wasn’t afraid to use it by any means necessary.  Basically, I wasn’t fun to be around, unless someone wanted to laugh at my harsh critical comments. I am not saying any of this with a strong sense of pride, I was too proud, too boastful back then.

We cannot take back the words we say.  Sure, we can regret them (for I have cried many tears of regret), but every word remains spoken and quite possibly remembered.  Now think about every word you have ever said and while you are thinking about this, try to imagine how the person you shot your barb or witty comment at was impacted all because of what you said.  You may have ruined the day for someone who started off feeling happy, maybe you dashed someone’s dream, maybe your words cut to the quick and someone lost whatever confidence that might have had; regardless, someone was either hurt, belittled or possibly broken by a word uttered in anger, contempt, spite, or ignorance.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my past actions.  My mind still wanders and tries to remember the damage I did. Not to hold onto it, but rather to learn from it and use as a measuring stick so I can continue to grow and now, possibly positively impact someone for the better.

How do we stop this?  We need to be rooted in God and follow His commands.  Several verses come to mind:  1 Peter 3:10 and Ephesians 4:29 are a good place to start.  We need to remember what we are commanded to do and why He has gifted us with a voice.

1 Peter    3:10  “For whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”

We are to behave responsively if we want a good full life.

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.”

We need to recognize our bad behavior before we speak.  Matthew 15:11 shows us what defiles us.  When we speak rashly, arrogantly/boastfully, spitefully, with an intent to condescend, belittle, and humiliate others, we are defiling the temple He gave us to uphold, protect and serve others by.

Matthew 15:11  “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

It is more than recognizing past behavior. This is a change that never ceases – requires commitment, it takes much investment, must be watched constantly, tweaked every now and then so we do not fall susceptible to destroying someone’s life or breaking their heart.  He tells us to love one another and our speech is an important way to demonstrate that love.  Shouldn’t we guard our speech to protect, serve and love others the way He intended for us to do?  I am writing this to warn you, to use as a preventive means so that you do not walk down the path I previously took.  Make the U-turn now please.  Do not wait!

He tells us what we need to do:  be gentle not harsh as pointed out in Proverbs 15:1-2; guard your tongue as wisdom is shown in Proverbs 21:23 and Psalm 141:3; be prudent like Proverbs 10:19 and do not fall susceptible to sin; and show restraint as in Proverbs 17:27-28.

Proverbs 15:1-2  “A gently answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.  The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.”

Proverbs 21:23  “Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”

Psalm 141:3  “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”

Proverbs 10:19  “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”

Proverbs 17:27-28  “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.  Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Finally, we can speak in love and with love, when we follow His instructions in Colossians 4:6.  We need to apply it.

Colossians 4:6  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

When we take this task to heart we can find success and happiness as a result.  When I came to Christ, it took me time, but I made the change only because He changed me first.  I now look for words to soothe others, find ways to encourage and lift others up.  I have no desire to hurt someone or cause them to go astray.  I love all the people God has placed in my life and who now reside as part of my heart.  I make the time to listen to someone, choose to find helpful solutions when asked, accept the wisdom wisely offered by good strong role models and then apply that wisdom to my life.  We can help others – we must do so if we truly know Christ!  Drop the negative and insert the positive in one another’s life and see how the garden blossoms and joy is found.  We do not have forever to find Him, and we have so much work to do as His Ambassadors.  The kind words we use could be the needed message He is using to open their eyes and leading them to search for God.

I pray my past negative actions did not lead someone astray or turn them away from trying to seek God.  Set new goals, start a new list and start saying words that matter and carry a lot of weight for the good.  From one sinner to another, He led me to do this and I know He can lead you to do the same.  We just need to think before we comment on something.  We owe it to ourselves to be the best He created us to be.  We owe it to the great Almighty Lord to be the best for His glory.  God bless!