Proverbs 15:4 (NLT) Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
Scientific studies have concluded that women speak on average about 20,000 words a day. Our male counterparts are believed to only speak about 7,000 words in the same amount of time. Research has also proven typically girls learn to speak earlier and more quickly than boys. Is this a blessing or a curse? It depends on what is coming out of our mouth, I suppose. I remember hearing somewhere that our words must be evaluated for worth. The worth of our words is this – are they kind, necessary and true? Imagine if before uttering a single sentence it was measured against these three qualities. Not only would our words be the tree of life that God intended them to be, but our relationships would thrive as well.
Not to add to the pressure ladies, but we will be judged for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you. Who says? Jesus! A tree is identified by its fruit. A good tree produces good fruit. What is in our heart determines what we say? The words we speak are to be a tree of life to those who they fall upon. What is the fruit of your lips today? I am evaluating mine. A good person produces good things from the treasure of a good heart. What’s in your basket of conversation today? What is the product of your words? Is there life? Do they feed and nourish those around you or are you giving away poison apples?
Have you noticed how expensive fresh fruit is these days? Four or five fresh Honeycrisp apples (our favorite) is about $5.00. Given the high price, I take my time going through the bin to select that apples that are ripe and colorful. I check them for bruising or signs of rotting. It is important to me that I choose well because they are for my family. I wonder what life might be like if we chose our words as carefully as selecting expensive items at the grocery store? What is the worth of our words?
Proverbs 18:21 (NLT) The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
I have changed a lot over the last five years. It used be all about being right. Voicing my opinion, and steamrolling through. I was full of pride. If I was right, it really didn’t matter what I said or how I said it. I had a coworker at my previous job who created a sign for me. On one side, it said, “Stop!” and on the other side “Go Right Ahead!” She would use it when she could tell I was becoming agitated as a warning system. She was like a mini-Holy Spirit if you will. When a conversation was escalating, she would hold up the sign. Thinking back, I wonder if the Lord was using her to send a message to me.
It doesn’t matter if I am right. Jesus gives me grace and mercy for when I am not. What matters to the Lord is the intention of my heart. Do I intend to love and honor Him with my life? In doing so, do I love and honor others in every conversation? The power of life and death is in our tongue. Every conversation has an accountability factor whether heard by many or simply with our self. Every idle word produces judgment in our life. Today I must evaluate the fruit of my life by examining my conversation. Are my words true? Are they necessary? Are they kind?
Psalm 19:14 (NLT) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
I used to think my opinion mattered. I also believed that everyone should know the truth even it was harsh reality. I believe that the Word of God is Truth and the only thing that really matters. When I take my feelings, emotions and opinions out of my conversation, it adds worth to my words. God loves us. He is good to us. He loves others. He has given us a message of love, faith and hope to be shared with others. If the words of my mouth do not line up with the meditation of my heart, I am sending mixed messages which are invalid. How can I know if my words are coming from a pure heart? Well let’s see…
In Proverbs, there are several verses that allow us to determine if our words hold life or death. Proverbs 10:11-12 tells us that the words of the godly should be a life-giving fountain. Do your words speak life to relationships or poison them? Godly words are valuable. (10:20) They offer encouragement. (10:21) Godly words are helpful. (10:32) They bring satisfaction to the giver and receiver. (18:20) Our words have the power to save lives. (12:6)
Proverbs also instructs us on the value of wise words. They will bring benefit. (12:14) Wisdom brings healing. (12:18) Wisdom is winning. (13:12) They cause us to dwell in safety. (14:3) Jesus told the Pharisees that their religious actions (what went in their mouth) did not defile them but rather what was coming out of their mouths. (Matthew 15) What are my words doing in the lives of those I share them with? Do my words feed others? Do my words attract them to Jesus? Do I spread life? Do I encourage? Do I build up? What am I spreading around for others to pick up? Our daily conversation allows us the opportunity to examine the contents of our heart. What are we looking for? Kind words. Necessary words. Truthful words. Godly words full of His Wisdom not our own.
James 3:17-18 (NLT) But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness.
The words of James come at the end of his discourse concerning the power of our tongue. I know that when my emotions get all riled up, it feels like I am pulling back on the reins of ten stampeding horses trying to rein them in and not react. We must learn to respond to the unexpected rather than react. The more I know the Lord – the less my opinion about people and things really matter. He decided everyone was worth it when Jesus died for us on the Cross. No one is righteous (right) outside of the love, grace and mercy of our Savior. One sin is enough sin to condemn us. Should we include our words in such considerations? When I speak harsh words against another, I am saying that Jesus died for nothing. My insults and frustrations invalidate my belief that His Grace is enough for me when I decide that it is okay to malign another with harsh words and accusations. It brings judgment on me.
Those who are peacemakers will plant seeds. Our words are seeds planted in the lives of others. What will they grow into? Love. Peace. Joy. Kindness. Or any other fruit of the Holy Spirit? Or do my words drive a wedge between Jesus and His Beloved. Lord, give me wise words and a discerning heart today to pluck away all the bad apples in my communication and rotting seeds of bad words.
Ephesians 4:29-32 (NLT) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
There is a “bless your heart” mentality in the church that makes it okay to gossip, malign and slander others. Sharing their secrets, exposing the truth and spreading gossip is covered in the heavy veil of religion because we are going to pray for them. The discourse is usually covered by a “we need to pray for them” or “bless their heart.” However, I believe this brings sorrow to the Holy Spirit. We are to cover each other. We are to pray for one another in love. Believers must get rid of all “bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander” to yield fruit fit for the Kingdom. Parents – our conversation in the home dictates the pattern of speech our children will adopt. To tear down people around our dinner table only teaches them it is okay to do so in the lunchroom. It is up to us as Children of the Living God to share a life of tenderheartedness, compassion and forgiveness even when we want to give others a piece of our mind. It doesn’t really matter what people say about me. My life is dependent on what I say about others and to them. I cannot change the heart and mind of another person. I am only responsible for my own.
My words belong to me. They are produced in my heart. I love Jesus. I want to have a heart and mind in alignment with Him. I must remain in Him and He lives in me. His Words must live in me, too. His Word bears the Fruit of His Spirit which is the only thing of worth I have to offer in this life. Do my words hold power? Do they emit light? Do they feed a hungry soul or deal the death blow? Are they fruit of His Spirit or nothing more than poison apples? Lord, when I open my mouth today to speak some of those 20,000 words that I am known to use in any given day, please Lord help me to remember to evaluate them carefully and inspect them thoroughly. Holy Spirit make sure they are kind, necessary and true – beneficial to the Kingdom. Thank you Lord for this reminder.
I Peter 3:9-11 (NLT) Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it.