Words that Give Life

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.

The Heart and our Words

My car was rattling and clanging. At first, I didn’t do anything about it. I would drive it to school and ignore the sounds that the engine made. Eventually, the smoke pouring out from under the hood convinced me that it was time to fix the problem.

When I took my car to the mechanic, he took one look and offered me $500 for the car. I told him that I was there to fix it, not to sell it. He laughed a little (irritation was the emotion that I was feeling), and he told me that he would have to replace the engine to fix the car’s problem.

My experience with my car also shows us something about our relationships. When a car’s engine is in good shape, the noises from under the hood will be good. But when a car’s engine is in bad shape, the noises will be chaotic. In the same way, when my heart is in good shape, then the words from a good heart will be life-giving to my relationships. When my heart is in bad shape, then the words will be destructive.

1. Our words reveal the condition of our heart.

Let’s look back at my car for a minute. The clanging and banging that I heard from under the hood were indicators of a deeper problem. That chaotic noise was a warning sign that my engine was damaged.

When communication in our relationships is filled with clanging and banging, we know that our “engine” is damaged. This is what Jesus is telling us when He says:

A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart. (Luke 6:45, HCSB)

If we get our heart right, then our words will be right. God calls us to check our hearts so that our life is pleasing to Him. When our heart is right, our life is aligned with Him, and our words will strengthen our relationships.

2. The heart is the engine of our life.

The Bible describes the heart as the “engine” of our life. The heart is the spring from which our life flows (Prov 4:23). It is the engine of our character. It is the source of the spiritual, moral, intellectual, and emotional aspects of our life. All the ingredients that are necessary for relationships begin in the heart. So, if we want healthy relationships, we need to begin with a healthy heart.

3. Guard our heart.

If we want healthy relationships, we need to make a determined effort every day to keep guard over our heart.

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

How do we do it? We allow His Word to invade the very core of our soul (Ps 119:10), saturating our minds and hearts (Ps 119:11). When we meditate on His Word, we find wisdom and satisfaction (Ps 119:97-104), and God’s Word guides our lives with every decision (Ps 119:105). His Word gives us comfort and joy in troubling times (Ps 119:143). For every circumstance, God’s Word becomes the fortress around our hearts, and our conversations will show it.

Today, ask God to take you on a journey through His Word. As you read His Word, pray for God to pinpoint any attitude, ambition, habit, or behavior that is not aligned to His will. Ask the Holy Spirit to apply Scripture to the out-of-tune places in your heart. Our words will then become instruments in God’s hands to create health in our relationships.

Our Words Matter

Words have power. They have the power to help or hurt, to build up or tear down, to bless or to curse. Our words aren’t neutral. What we say and how we say it can be a source of strength or a cause of great pain. When it comes to our relationships, our words matter.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29, ESV)

When Paul wrote these words to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, he was offering them divine insight into navigating their relationships. As we read these words from the Bible, I pray that God would apply His truth to our life, our words, and our relationships.

1. Stop using worthless words.

Paul says corrupting speech is contrary to Jesus Christ and the new way of life He has given us. “Corrupting talk” can point to words that are useless, but it probably has something more malicious in mind. It’s when we use our words to hurt someone, including deceitful words and malicious gossip. We must stop wounding our relationships with worthless words. We must refuse to let even one rotten word pour out of our mouths.

2. Use only words that build others up.

Instead of rotten words, we must build up others through our words so that people around us are swirling in Christ’s grace rather than salacious sewage. Paul says that our words must be good for edifying and grace-giving.

Edifying words include communication that helps to build up what is lacking in the lives of others. Grace-giving words include communication that empowers our friends and family to pursue what God wants by living in His power. The goal is to build up, not tear down.

Jesus wants us to know that our words matter. He gave a warning to a group of religious leaders of His day:

I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.” (Matthew 12:36, HCSB)

God takes our words seriously, and so should we. Now, I know that words don’t fix every relationship or fix everything in a relationship. There are many times deeper issues that need to be navigated, but the words we use do matter, and they can only help a relationship flourish.


ABC’s of Relationships

Everyone can have great relationships.

We begin this new series of messages on April 3 in our weekend gatherings. Our on-campus adult LIFEgroups will participate in a companion study beginning April 10. Many new off-campus groups are forming to study this as well. Daily devotionals will be posted on the blog beginning April 4.

ABCs of Relationships Personal Study Guide web

ABCs of Relationships Teaching Plan download