I don’t know why we hold on to those comments that hurt us, instead of the good, uplifting loving ones. But we do! Sometimes, even years after, we remember the hurtful things said to us instead of the good things.
This was said by one of my friends, a wise, older woman, in a class she taught. It wasn’t even the main thrust of her topic, just an aside, a nugget of wisdom that stuck with me long after that Wednesday night.
Our words have immense power, either for encouraging and building up or for hurting and tearing down.
This is so easy to understand when words are directed at us – but it is more difficult to realize that my words might be the ones tearing others down! Proverbs speaks often of the power of our words:
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. ~ Proverbs 18:21
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. ~ Proverbs 15:4
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. ~ Proverbs 15:1
Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. ~ Proverbs 16:24
Of course, instead of our words hurting and weighing others down, we could thoughtfully, intentionally build each other up. Our words are not just landing “somewhere out there” – they are lodging in hearts, minds, and souls. We have a great responsibility and privilege to influence those around us for the better, for eternity!
We could be gentle, instead of snappy.
We could be loving, instead of resentful.
We could listen, instead of speaking only of ourselves.
We could encourage others to step forward in faith, instead of pointing out doubts and failures.
We could be grateful and thank others and God, instead of complaining and criticizing.
We could teach kindness and righteousness, instead of pettiness and gossip.
We could speak the truth in love, instead of complying with things that we know are not right.
We could be… more like Jesus. Words may seem small, but they carry lasting consequences. How are we using our words today?