Our words can give life or death in our relationships.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21, NKJV)
In our relationships, what we say and how we say it has the power of life or death. We cannot underestimate the power of our words. Before you say what’s in your head, think about what those words will do. Are they going to give life or give death?
1. Wise Words. (Proverbs 12:18)
Life-giving words are wise. Our words can be like a sword that pierces the soul with devastating results. There’s nothing righteous about words that destroy others. They are the fruit of spiritual immaturity. Those who are wise, who have a heart in tune with God, surrender each word to the Lord to promote health in relationship with their words.
“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, ESV)
Before we speak, let’s submit our words to the Spirit of God, asking Him to show us if our words are wise.
2. Truthful Words. (Proverbs 14:25)
Our words are life-giving when they are true. They are death-dealing when they are deceitful.
“A truthful witness saves lives, but one who breathes out lies is deceitful.” (Proverbs 14:25, ESV)
Words that are saturated with honesty and integrity reflect the heart of God (Prov 12:17). Literally, we breathe stability, honesty, fidelity, and truth. When our heart is right with God, speaking His truth is as natural as breathing. We speak through lips and hearts surrendered completely to Christ.
Before we speak, let’s submit our words to the Spirit of God, asking Him to show us if our words are true.
3. Necessary Words.
This counsel from God about life-giving words is perhaps as difficult for you as it is for me. We don’t always have to say what we’re thinking. If words aren’t building up the other, then they’re not necessary.
“Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” (Proverbs 17:27-28, NKJV)
Restraining the words that come into our head and remaining “cool” under personal challenge are a reflection of a heart controlled by God. Just because we have an opinion doesn’t mean that we should share it. When we submit our words to God, we can be confident and secure, even when we feel like we’re being attacked. We don’t need to defend our fragile egos because we have safe-guarded ourselves with the certainty of God’s presence in our lives, so we speak only what God says is necessary. Sometimes, being silent is what gives the greatest health to our relationships.
Before we speak today, let’s submit our words to the Spirit of God, asking Him to show us if our words are necessary.
4. Gracious Words.
For our words to be life-giving in our relationships, our words need to be gracious.
“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” (Proverbs 16:24, ESV)
One day sometime ago, I was on a plane traveling to speak at a conference. The flight was pretty bumpy and some people were obviously scared. Each time the plane shook and jumped, their fear was palpable. There was one attendant who spoke with caustic frustration. She didn’t help anyone. She just increased the tension on the flight. But there was another attendant who smiled and spoke gentle words of comfort and peace.
When our relationships are captured in the turmoil of uncertain circumstances, we need to speak pleasant words. These are words seasoned by the grace of Jesus Christ with the wisdom and direction that He alone can provide. Gracious words help calm those we love and evaluate the situation with clarity of faith in Jesus who loves us.
Before we speak, let’s submit our words to the Spirit of God, asking Him to show us if our words are gracious.
A true heart seeks God’s heart in what we say. Through prayer, we determine if our words reflect God’s character. Through Scripture, we align our words absolutely to God’s Word, which is the revelation of His heart. No syllable out of our mouth should stand in conflict to God’s Word. Through the Spirit, we surrender our speech to God.
When we seek the heart of the Father, consider the heart of Scripture, and surrender our words to the Spirit, we will be on safe ground in speaking, not in foolishness, but in righteousness. And we will give life, not death, to our relationships.