“I love you.” “Steady… you’ll be OK.” The words are like a blanket on a chill night, warming, comforting, bringing rest. One of life’s sweetest moments is when a mother holds her child close and with soft words soothes the heart of the little one. I am one grateful man for the encouraging words which gather ‘round me in this season of sorrow. My niece hugged me on Sunday night and whispered into my ear as I wept, “Aw, Uncle Jerry, we love you.” Dozens of ‘sympathy’ cards lie on the kitchen counter, each one bringing a message of concern.
How do you use your words?
Are you someone who heals or wounds, someone who encourages or discourages, someone who leaves blessings or curses?
In the middle of practical instructions for the Christian life, Paul was inspired to tell us – “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.” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV) That translation misses the punch of the original text! “Unwholesome” translates a Greek word that literally means “rotten, putrefied!” The text literally says “Don’t dump your rotten garbage words on others!” What a picture and not so far from reality in too many situations. Coarse, foul, profane language is so common among us that it often goes unheard. I despise it! When I hear a man speaking of women in a way that makes them nothing more than sexual objects, my blood boils. When I hear a parent berating a child, confusing correction with destruction of the spirit, I am angry and brokenhearted in equal measure.
By contrast, I am thrilled when I see a person using the gift of communication to lift another up. I love to see a child’s eyes light up when I take time to notice them and sincerely compliment something they have done. He stands taller, his face breaks into a wide smile. Tell a 4 year-old little girl that her dress is pretty and watch her delight! Tell a person that you value his work and he will respond with even greater effort. Paul’s instruction calls on us to train ourselves to speak in a way that is “good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29, KJV) Words that build and give life should not be rare among those over whom God, the Father, has spoken such blessings and wholeness!
The Scripture goes on to remind us that our language creates an environment. We are able to drive the Presence of the Spirit from us. That allows for the increase of human conflict! Or, we can bring the Eternal Spirit right into our world and create beautiful wholeness. Read this! “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:30-32, NIV) Few things cause me more regret than remembering those moments of anger when my words wounded another, when instead of taking my troubled heart to the Father and letting Him heal the fountain, I spewed my putrid emotions on others! And, nothing makes me feel greater joy than thinking of those moments when the Spirit flowed through me to comfort, to heal, to instruct, to bless!
Remember, we cannot just change the impact of our words at our lips! What we pour on our world through our words is an overflow of who we are. Our word from the Word today come from Jesus. He teaches us that “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45, NIV) Thus our prayer is not for changed words but rather for a transformed heart.
Go first into His Presence and be filled, then go out to use the gift of words to transform the world of which you are a part – one person at a time.
Make Me A Blessing
Out in the highways and byways of life
Many are weary and sad.
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife
Making the sorrowing glad!
Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow’r to forgive.
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True ev’ry moment you live.
Give as ’twas given to you in your need
Love as the Master loved you!
Be to the helpless a helper, indeed.
Unto your mission be true.
Make me a blessing, make me a blessing!
Out of my life, may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today!
George S. Schuler | Ira Bishop Wilson
© Words: 1924, Renewed 1952 Word Music, LLC (a div. of Word Music Group, Inc.)