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Watch What You Say!
The power of the spoken word is incredible. Its effect is so often underestimated by most of us. We really don’t even think about the impact our words can have because speaking just comes to easily to most of us. We have a thought, we speak the words. One, two. There it is. What we think, we say. Like it or not, take it or leave it.
Words can encourage people to new heights, or they can damage and defeat them. And the work they do has lasting, sometimes eternal effects.
Listen to some examples of how words can be used to encourage. I have several here, and I want you to listen carefully. Give the words time to settle in your mind and in your heart. See how hearing them has an effect on you…
Some simple ways: “Good job!” “Well done!” “You really have a talent for that.” “I love you.”
And then here are some encouraging quotes from some wise people…
“When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place.”
“it is never too late to be what you might have been.”
“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down. ”
~ Mary Pickford
“It doesn’t matter how many say it cannot be done or how many people have tried it before; it’s important to realize that whatever you’re doing, it’s your first attempt at it.”
~ Wally Amos
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
~ Japanese Proverb
And here are some scriptures that talk about encouraging words…
Proverbs 16:24 ” Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Hebrews 10:25 “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Psalm 10:17 “You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”
Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things”
Jeremiah 29:11 “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'”
1 John 3:16 “This is how I know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for me.”
John 10:10 “Jesus said “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.”
What does the Bible say about my role in encouraging others?
2 Corinthians 1:3,4 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts me in all our troubles, so that I can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort I myself have received from God.”
This past week, the Supreme Court of the United States made a ruling that upheld private citizens’ right to own guns. Some of you probably agreed with that ruling, and some of you probably disagreed. Be that as it may, I would like to submit to you that your tongue has far more power than any gun that has ever been, or ever will be made.
Proverbs 15:4 “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life,but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death…”
1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. 3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man,
8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
And then James goes on to say that we should yield to the wisdom and direction of God, and when we do, James says just a few verses later, the rewards are great.
James 3:17 “…the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace?loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
And better yet, listen to this:
2 Sam 23:2 “The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;his word was on my tongue.”
How very awesome is that??? Our tongues, these incredibly powerful instruments, that can do so much destruction, can also be the instruments of God, to bring His message to a lost and dying generation. What an awesome thing to consider.
So we need to be aware of the power of our words and ask ourselves, “Do my words build up or tear down? Do they help or hinder? Are mine the words that Jesus would say?”
Now, if you are at all like me, you have times, more times than you would like to admit, where you let words fly that Jesus would most definitely not say. And I’m not just talking about the vulgar four letter words. I’m talking about demeaning phrases, hate filled speech, boastful attitudes, lies, gossip, you probably know your area of weakness, just like I know mine.
And it is oh, so easy afterward to say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it. I couldn’t help myself. It’s just who I am. Me and my big mouth.” Well, as I see it, there are two things wrong with that sorry excuse.
1) You can’t unsay the words. They are out there, and they will continue to ring in the ears of the hearers for a very, very, very long time. And they will have long lasting effects. And the worse the words were, the longer the effects.
2) You CAN, and you are EXPECTED to harness your tongue. That’s right. If you are a believer, you can keep your mouth shut. You do NOT have to blurt out whatever vile thought your tongue would like to vomit. Want proof?
Let’s first start on the negative side, ok?
Proverbs 6:16-19 “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him:”
(((Listen for how many of these are done with the tongue…)))
17 haughty eyes,a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19 a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”
There were seven things there that God detests, and three of them are done with the tongue: a lying tongue, a false witness who pours out lies, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
So, why does God delineate things that He detests? To show the wrong of the things, to be sure, but we know that when the Holy Spirit controls the life of the believer, He gives us power to obey, we are no longer slaves to the sin. Right?
Want more proof that we can control our tongue? Here’s another one from the negative side…
In speaking about evil men, King David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said:
Psalm 50:19 “You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit.”
Did you hear that? He said “You…harness your tongue to deceit.” What does a harness do? It controls, holds, restrains. So, the evil man makes his tongue deceive.
Well, if an evil man makes his tongue deceive, can’t a Godly man exercise control in the opposite direction? God’s Word says he must:
1 Peter 3:10 “For,”Whoever would love life ; and see good days ; must keep his tongue from evil ; and his lips from deceitful speech.”
Not clear enough for you? Then listen to James:
James 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
Yikes! If I don’t keep a tight rein on the things I say, I’m not much of a follower of Jesus. That’s basically what that says. All of my good works, everything I do in the name of Christ, is worthless if I don’t tame my tongue. Which makes sense, doesn’t it? If I do good things, but tear others down with my words, what does that say about me, and more importantly, what does it say about the power of Jesus in my life? Hmmm. Something to think about isn’t it?
Remember, Christians, we have a choice. If we have been made new creations by the blood of Jesus, and if we have the Holy Spirit within us, then we are not at the mercy of our whims, our passions, our impulses. We can choose to do the Godly thing, or the ungodly.
“But Steve,” you say. “Come on. Sometimes I just can’t help myself. The words are out before I know it. I just blurt them out. I’m sorry once they’re said, I really am. And I know I shouldn’t have said them. But sometimes, in the heat of the moment, they just come out! Does that mean that I’m not a Christian?”
No, I wouldn’t say that. If you sincerely are sorry, if you just had a moment of weakness, then what I would say you are is human. And in pretty good company. Listen to the apostle Paul:
20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?
25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. ;
1 Therefore, (or…since that is so….) there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
I heartily recommend that you go read Romans 8 in its entirety right now if at all possible. This is one of my favorite chapters of the entire Bible, and it really speaks to this issue of sin in the life of the believer, and the victory we can have because of what Jesus did for us. I can’t take time to read the whole chapter to you here, but every believer needs to read and reread this chapter until it becomes a part of you.
So, the message is this:
Words are powerful. More powerful than a locomotive. They can tear down and they can build up. They can bring death, and they can bring life. The evil man uses words to do evil, the godly man can bring God’s words of hope, love and Good News. We are responsible to control which type of words we use. And when we fail, there is forgiveness because of Jesus sacrifice for you and for me.
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