Talking is a necessary part of our everyday life. From saying “Good morning!” to ordering coffee, to telling our mechanic exactly what noise our car is making, we talk. It is a joy to listen to babies learn how to talk, to use their mouths to communicate meaning, to express emotion, and to share their needs with the world.
As I have been thinking about talking, I have been reflecting how we use our words. After all, we “talk” through a variety of mediums. We use our voices, we use email. We communicate through social media and we use sign language and nonverbal forms of communication to share our words, our thoughts and our feelings. We are naturally communicative beings.
Of late, I have become acutely aware of how powerfully words are used, and how harmful we allow our speech to become. I see people express anger, hatred, racism, and violent intent quickly, easily, and seemingly without repercussion. I watch people express their opinions quickly and easily. They justify hurtful words, thoughts, and ideas easily because, “They are right!” We cover destructive speech under the cloak of being correct and fail to consider the powerful impact of the words we use on friends, on family, on loved ones, on coworkers, on acquaintances, and on strangers.
We take little stock of the damage our words, our speech, our social media footprint causes to those around us. After all, “I am right! I speak the truth! If they don’t like it, that’s tough!” I see the carnage all the time when believers use words as a weapon.
Scripture speaks repeatedly about the power of our speech and how we are to speak the words we use. In Ephesians 4.29, Paul, when speaking to the Ephesian Christians regarding speaking the truth to one another says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word ans is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (NASB) Later on in Colossians 4.5, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. (NASB) Proverbs 15.1 reminds us that “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (NASB)
Scripture is teaching us that our words are powerful tools either for good or for evil. We choose which function they will have. The words that we use, (regardless if they are spoken, printed, or delivered in sign) are to be tools for the grace of God in the life of those around us. We choose the words we share with others. Perhaps we should be much slower to speak and evaluate the possible repercussions of what we share, or what we say, or what we post.
I am reminded of the four-way test of the Rotary Club,
Of the things I think, say, or do:
- Is it TRUTH?
- Is it FAIR to all concerned?
- Will it build GOODWILL and build BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
- Will it be BENEFICIAL TO ALL WHO ARE CONCERNED?
I encourage all who read my ramblings to consider your speech. Evaluate if your words are a tool for grace or an instrument of carnage.
Anyway, just my ramblings,
A Pastor in Camo