13. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Words
Photo courtesy of Terri Lynn
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived writes in Proverbs 15: “A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire”; “Kind words heal and help! Cutting words wound and maim”; “Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! “; “God can’t stand evil scheming, but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.” (Proverbs 15:1, 4, 23, 26)
Words are the central means of communication regardless of our language, culture or people group. Needless to say that every one of us has either been hurt, or hurt others, by communicated words. In his book “Conversation Matters”, Peter Shaw writes: “The quality of conversation matters for healthy family life, community life and work life.” He goes on to say that conversation is essential to our enjoyment and growth as people, let alone as Christian disciples. The power of the tongue in speech is awesome. It has the power of life & death and those who love it will eat its fruit. It is a fire, which left unguarded, can corrupt the whole body and set the whole course of life on fire. We need to watch the words that we utter and control our speech, or it will control us. Jesus, our Master, said in Matthew Chapter 12 “How do you suppose what you say is worth anything when you are so foul-minded? It’s your heart, not the dictionary, which gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is blight on the orchard. Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” Jesus took words extremely seriously and so must we for we are a result of our speech and we will be judged for what we say.
So what is a right use of the tongue in speech? We are to use our words to nourish others, encourage and lift them up. For the tongue of the righteous is choice silver. (Prov.10:21). Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet in the soul and healing to the bones. We find that if we give an apt reply we will find joy and discover the goodness and healing a timely word brings! But we are not to speak glibly and hypocritically but with truth, sincerity and love – as a mother speaks to her daughter.
Photo courtesy of Jan
How can we guard its use? By asking the Holy Spirit to watch over our lips and set a guard over our mouth, according to the Psalmist in Psalm 141:3. It is a measure of wisdom to speak words when required and with discernment. Any fool can speak words all the time, but sometimes there is a need for silence, for even then foolish people are thought to be wise. Often we are told to be quick to speak and slow to listen, but as Christian disciples we are to do the opposite! We are to be slow to speak and quick to listen, according to James 1:19.
Our example of Jesus – People were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips according to Luke 4:22! At other times they were astonished at the authority of His words! He always used discernment in what he had to say and how he had to say it. Sometimes he spoke in anger, particularly against the oppressive religious leaders. He spoke with exasperation with his disciples when they showed no clue about what he had been talking about. But his words also healed, such as to the woman caught in adultery, when he used discernment and wisdom. He actively encouraged others gently towards paths of right living. He spoke words lovingly to his mother. He even spoke words of kindness whilst He hung from His cross, during his last moments before death! He is to be our guide and Master in the use of speech, thoughts and words.
For more to think about please do read James 3vv1-11. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.
Photo courtesy of Petra
- Are the words I speak, words that heal and encourage, or are they also used to hurt and damage people?
- What areas can I improve upon so that my words can heal, encourage and uplift others?
- When I am sharing with other people, is what I am saying really sharing or is it gossiping by another name?
- Is there somebody who I know, that could do with being encouraged and uplifted by way of email, telephone, letter or postcard?
As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at http://www.davegroberts.podbean.com. I would love to hear from you and if these are making any difference at all to your continual Christian discipleship! Thank you.