Last Sunday at church, I discussed the theme of James 3. If you are familiar with the book of James, you know exactly where I’m going. Ouch! Sometimes, the Word hurts, but we need to let it hurt.
From time to time, I have to take a step back in a manner of speaking and think about my words. What message do they convey? Am I speaking life or death? Am I helping or hurting with my words? These are questions we must all ask ourselves.
There are a number of ways to misuse your words. Although I will not be able to discuss all of them, I will attempt to highlight a few.
Proverbs 18:21 is a popular passage of scripture. It is often used for selfish purposes such as declaring that people should speak worldly prosperity into their lives. Although God has no problem blessing His people, the purpose of this passage was to remind us that we should not speak negatively about ourselves, others, or life in general.
Think about all the times that you speak negatively. How is your disposition afterward? Do you feel peace and joy? Or, do you feel down and in despair? While certain physical conditions can cause us to have a tendency to lean toward depression, speaking negatively can certainly affect our health and the way we get through a given day.
Constructive criticism is one thing, but berating every move another person makes is another. As we know it, constructive criticism is helpful because it is done out of a pure motive. Godly correction, which is a bit more than constructive criticism, is to be done in love and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
When you speak critically of others, your God-given ability to practice forgiveness is hindered. Your focus is on the fault in everyone and everything rather than what is good. If you find it necessary to correct everything someone says or does, you have a tongue issue, and you need to seek God for deliverance.
Colossians 4:6 reminds us that our conversation should be covered with grace. Extend grace to others and to yourself. You will find that your disposition will improve. Trust me, everyone around you will be grateful.
I don’t know of too many people who have not gossiped at one time or another. It is a natural human tendency to tell what we have heard about others or a situation. Most of the time, we do not have all of the facts. Even if what we are repeating is true, there is a chance it does not need to be repeated. Check with the Holy Spirit. He will guide you.
Unfortunately, I have helped to spread gossip, and I have been the subject of gossip. Jesus, help me! I want to do better, and I believe you do too. Ephesians 4:29 reminds us that we should let no corrupt communication proceed from our mouths, but we should speak what edifies.
Walk away from a gossiping conversation. If you are unable to walk away, try to find something positive to say about the person in question. Or, simply remind everyone that the Lord commands us to address issues privately before telling them to everyone else (see Matthew 18).
Speak God’s word over your situations. I am not suggesting that you become a “name it and claim it” sort of person, but I am saying that you should allow your words to line up with what God says. God’s word says that you are an overcomer. God’s word says that He provides escape from every temptation. God’s word says that He has given you all things that you need for life and godliness. What else does God’s word say about you and your life?
When people offend us, and it will happen, choose mercy. I know it’s not easy. Just yesterday, I was extremely upset with a few people who were gossiping about some people I love. Although God calls us to confront situations, we still have to speak mercy. When I say to speak mercy, I mean that we must speak out that we choose to forgive our offenders and put them in God’s hands. Extending mercy will cause mercy to come back around to us.
God’s grace has been given freely to us as believers. We must extend that grace to others. and ourselves. Let people off the hook. You do not have to allow people to walk all over you, but sometimes we just need to let things go.
1 Corinthians 13:13 reminds us that faith, hope, and love abide, but the greatest of these is love. The love of God is given to us by the Holy Spirit when we accept Jesus. We can walk in love. We can do all things through Christ. Remember this: love is not a feeling. It is an act of your will.
What Will You Speak?
James 3:8 states that no man can tame the tongue. That’s right, we can’t, but God can. We have God in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so our tongues can be tamed and used for God’s purposes. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 12:36 that we will give an account for every idle word that we speak. This does not mean that we should always be silent, but it does mean that we should speak by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What will you speak? Life or death? Grace or evil? The choice is yours, but the same verse that says life and death are in the power of the tongue also says we reap the fruit of our words.