We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
- author and critic Roger Ebert
We had just experienced a wonderful service at Eagle Mountain International Church in Fort Worth, Texas, about the power of our words, and as we loaded the girls into our SUV, they were already fussing at each other.
I tried to ignore their bickering, still replaying Pastor George’s message in my head and heart. We hadn’t taken the girls to children’s service that morning, electing to let them stay in “big service” with us. I thought they had just been coloring and playing dolls during church, but I soon discovered they had actually been listening.
“You’re a stupid head,” 6-year-old Abby said to her little sister. “Ally is a stupid head. Ally is a stupid head.”
Just as I was about to intervene, Ally blurted out: “Mom, Abby is making bad confessions over me.”
Jeff and I both tried to choke back laughter at the very accurate comment. Our little 4-year-old understood the power of words that day, and she didn’t want her big sister saying anything negative about her. Apparently, Pastor George’s message had made an impact on little Allyson, as well.
Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue holds the power of life and death. The Scriptures also say that the tongue, though it is a small part of the human body, can make great boasts and cause immense damage. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of hurtful words, you know the truth of that.
“Words both challenge and change us. Words deeply affect us. An unruly and unkind tongue can wound us,” explains Paul Davis, minister and author of Breakthrough for a Broken Heart. “That being said, anything spoken to you contrary to the Word of God can be discarded as you renew your mind according to Scripture.”
That’s what I’ve had to do when hurtful words have been said to me, and that’s what you’ll have to do if you’re stinging from cutting comments.
We need to learn to combat negative words with God’s Word. If someone says, “You are a loser. You will never amount to anything,” don’t think on those untruths. Instead, remind yourself what God says about you. He says, “You are the head and not the tail. You are an overcomer! You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.”
Others’ words can deeply affect us, but our words can also deeply affect others. What are you saying to your family, friends, coworkers and acquaintances? Do you build up with your words, or do you tear down?
Taming the tongue begins with controlling your emotions and allowing God to fill you up with his love because our words essentially are an overflow of what lives in our hearts. If your heart is full of love, peace, joy, contentment, grace and self-control, then your mouth will be full of the same.
Practice building up the people in your life this week. Here are a few phrases to get you started:
Take every opportunity to use your words to encourage and uplift the people you encounter each day, and don’t think it’s OK to say ugly things to others. It’s never OK, and to quote Abby, that makes you “a stupid head.” Don’t be “a stupid head” ; be an encourager instead!
Michelle Medlock Adams is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author, with more than 60 books and 1,000 articles for newspapers and magazines to her name. She was won several SELAH Awards (best children’s book and book of the year for God Knows You in 2014 and best children’s book for My Big Book of Prayers in 2012), and her book Divine Stories of the Yahweh Sisterhood was named a Family Christian Bookstores Premiere Pick in 2006. When not working on her own assignments, Michelle ghostwrites books for celebrities and some of today’s most effective and popular ministers.
Michelle is married to her high school sweetheart, Jeff. They have two college-aged daughters, Abby and Allyson, as well as a small petting zoo. When not writing or teaching writing, Michelle enjoys cheering on the Indiana University Men’s Basketball team, the Chicago Cubbies and the LA Kings. Find out more about Michelle at her website.