The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4, Christian Standard Bible)
Have you ever wondered how many words the average person knows? One source says the average twenty-year-old American has knowledge of 42,000 words. Whether that is high, low, or on target, I don’t know. But what I do wonder is how many of those words are kind words, or as Proverbs 15:4 says, healing words.
Have you ever considered the power of your words on those you interact with each day? What kind of words come out of your mouth? Do they heal, or do they hurt? Are they loving and affirming or harsh and derogatory? Look at these opposite statements. Which one will be most encouraging to you?
I love you. I hate you.
You are so attractive. You are so ugly.
You do great work. Can’t you do anything right?
We can speak loving, healing words; but if they lack sincerity, it will show. I remember a time when I meant well, but I suppose I was just repeating something I thought a certain teenager wanted to hear. I can’t remember what was going on in her life at that moment, but the compliments in my little pep talk didn’t work. She looked at me and said, “You’re just saying that to try to make me feel good, aren’t you.?” Oops. My words really were true, but I was just giving her a pat answer instead of a well thought out and genuine response. She recognized what I was doing, and my words did not affirm her as I wished.
I remember another time and another teenager, a Sunday school student. I sincerely liked her and wanted to see her succeed. The problem was others—those who should have loved her most—had filled her life with destructive words that tore at her spirit. Those words drowned out the positive things I spoke. Years later, my heart still aches for what she could have become if the right words had filled her life.
Destructive words include those spoken with bitterness, malice, criticism, or biting sarcasm. They can also be thoughtless remarks and “harmless” gossip. Insinuating or accusing words can destroy an innocent person’s reputation. As Proverbs 15:4 warns, our words can break a person’s spirit.
In this age of putting all our thoughts on social media, I think it’s important we realized God holds us accountable for our written words as well as our spoken words. Many of the words I read online cannot be classified as healing. Instead they are critical, divisive, even malicious and judgmental. Let me ask a simple question. Would you speak these same words to or about the Lord as you speak about one of His children? First John 4:21 admonishes, “And we have this command from him: The one who loves God must also love his brother and sister” (CSB).
We live in strange times, what the Bible calls perilous times. Many are filled with anger, hatred, and a destructive spirit. In such times, it is vital that we, as a child of God, speak healing words into the lives of those we meet. Speak words of peace, of reconciliation, of love. Use Philippians 4:8 as your model. Don’t just think on these things—speak on these things.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (NLT)
Prayer: Lord, use the words I speak to bring love and healing into the lives of those who are suffering injustice and hatred. Let my spirit reflect Your spirit as I speak into their lives. I am here to represent You to a lost and hurting world.