Even if we’ve never acknowledged it, the reason words are so powerful is because they reveal what’s in our hearts…The worst part of regretting your words is knowing where your heart was at when you misspoke –– or knowing where someone else’s heart was at when they said what they did to you. Our words alter reality for people, and every time we open our mouths we have an opportunity to bring to life hope or hurt for someone else. In our new series, Sticks X Stones, let’s talk about the most powerful tool we all possess: our words.
1. Words are creative
Proverbs 12:18, 15:1
- God’s words are creative in a way biblical scholars refer to as “ex nihilo” –– he creates something from nothing. Our words aren’t creative in the same way, in that we don’t create stuff from nothing. But we do help create realities. We can bless people and lift them up, or we can tear people down. Every time we speak, something is created.
- In heated moments, when we answer gently, we turn away wrath. Our words create contexts for either good or bad things to bloom. They have power. The Bible is full of examples of this from the blessings of Genesis, to the curses of the prophets, to the warnings found in James.
- However, when God works, he often divinely inspires his people. We call these instances “the spiritual gifts.” These are the moments when God invited humans into what he is doing, and speaks to us in a way that we can understand. Sometimes this manifests through encouragement, teaching, or someone saying the right words in the right moment, but it can also show up as dreams, visions, words of prophecy, or tongues (people speaking a language that they do not know).
Take some time, and ask the Holy Spirit to pour out the spiritual gifts in your life. How are you walking in the Spirit when it comes to your words? What realities are you creating with your words?
2. Words are a window to your heart
- Our words are a way for us to diagnose what’s going on in our hearts. Jesus said, “From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). We have to cultivate our hearts first and foremost –– that’s where our words come from!
- We all love flavorful food, but good food all starts with good soil, as any farmer will tell you. In the same way, we all want to be full of kind words and kind actions, but it starts in the health of our hearts. It’s the invisible, below-the-surface work that results in a beautiful life.
- When we see what’s in our hearts, if it doesn’t glorify God, we should confess our sin to the Lord and turn our lives into ones that glorify him. So whatever our words reveal to us about hearts, it’s an opportunity to live in such a way that we glorify God!
What are you putting into your heart to cultivate it? How do you need to better cultivate your heart so that your words might bless others?
3. Words must be guarded
- The wise person doesn’t say everything. There’s a difference between transparency and vulnerability. Transparency says, “This is who I am. Deal with it.” Vulnerability says, “This is who I am. Can you help me?”
- The Bible calls us to more than transparency. It calls us to be vulnerable with one another, to admit that we don’t have it all figured out.
- We need to guard our words because they’re creative, and once they’re out there, we can’t pull them back. We need to be careful not to just spill our thoughts and emotions all over the place.
Take some time and invite the Holy Spirit to grow in you the fruit of self-control. How do you need to partner with the Spirit in walking in self-control?
4. Words should bless
Proverbs 16:24; Ephesians 4:29
- We don’t always know what to say or when to say it, but we can ask the Lord to guard our hearts. He wants to help us to navigate using our words effectively. We are going to be held accountable for the words we speak, and the Lord wants to help us speak words that are meaningful.
- Even as we guard our words, we don’t have to be neutral –– we can bless others! Our words can and should be vehicles of the blessing of God. As we listen to the Lord, we can convey his words to others and partner with him in his life-giving work.
How can you better enjoy the blessings God has given you? How can you move from a place of neutrality in your relationships and into a place where you bless others in the way you speak?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?