I’ll bet you remember the moment your life changed.
It may have been in childhood or even when you were an adult. But someone said something to you that was hurtful. That person may not have even meant for their words to sting, but they cut you deep, and that moment changed your entire perception of yourself from that point forward.
For me, it was ninth grade. I was in my high school’s weight room, getting ready for football season. Coach Logan walked through the weight room, looked at me, and said, “Man, you’ve got bird legs. It’s a good thing you’re in the weight room.”
It crushed me.
I was a freshman, and I was determined to make the football team. But with that one comment, my confidence evaporated, and I started thinking, “Oh, no. I don’t have the legs for this.”
It confirms what the Bible says about the tongue holding the power of both life and death (Proverbs 18:21). We can use our words in a way that gives life to someone’s dreams and self-image. Or we can do the exact opposite and speak death by saying something that wounds them and crushes their spirit.
Most of us can probably relate to how easy it is to say something careless, to gossip about someone at church or at work, or to share something on social media we would never say in person.
Reversing those tendencies is a challenge. We’re so quick to shine a light on the world and say, “Look how they behave.” But it’s hard to shine that light on ourselves and be honest about how our words are causing damage to others.
As ambassadors for Christ, that’s no small thing. God has entrusted us with the responsibility of using our words wisely. There are nearly 3,500 passages in Scripture that in some way reference taming our tongue or honoring God with our words.
It’s also important because how we speak says a lot about the condition of our soul. Luke 6:45 tells us, “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” (ESV).
Learning to use our words in wisdom is like developing a muscle. It’s hard and even a little exhausting to change those habits, and we’ll think, “How many times do I have to apologize to my kids or my spouse for saying that?”
But over time, with God’s grace, we’ll improve. And it’s important that we do. For us to live in a way that’s consistent with Scripture, we have to be able to use our tongue to speak words that give life.
I encourage you to join us for our conversation with Karen Ehman, a writer and speaker with Proverbs 31 Ministries. We’ll delve into this topic and discuss the power of our words and how to use them to bless the people around us rather than harm them.