Our mouths can be a real challenge, can’t they?
I was one of those good kids. I’m a firstborn, so I’m a people pleaser and naturally compliant. I have never been one to challenge authority for rebellion’s sake. I was pretty obedient. I didn’t get in trouble too often.
But I had a mouth on me. I was very apt to respond to any correction with a sly comment under my breath. Sometimes those comments were heard, and sometimes not. I was thankful for the times they weren’t. When they were, it led to various punishments.
Needless to say, I can still be that kid with the smart mouth. I am terribly sarcastic. Not in a mean way; I’m more funny-sarcastic. But I can be a bit insulting-sarcastic when approached in an aggressive way.
I experience this at work quite a bit. I’m a receptionist. The employees who come in and out of the office tend to bring out the worst in me. They come at me with a lot of craziness. I’m usually a very restrained person with a really good filter, but when provoked, I can be extremely curt.
I’m in process and that’s OK. Jesus is SO patient with me!
The Bible is very clear about our words and the power they hold. Words are tricky, both those said intentionally and those spoken in passing or in jest. We all know God’s Word. We know what we should and shouldn’t say. We know how we should and shouldn’t speak. But I seem to constantly need a reminder.
What we absorb matters.
“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45
I have been in youth ministry for almost 20 years. I can’t count how many times I have heard the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” It holds true at six. Its holds true at 16 and at 66. We were created to produce fruit…good fruit. What we fill our hearts with matters. That is true regardless of our age or what season we are in.
I don’t mind at all being viewed in my workplace as the Holy Roller or Religious Freak. My life — our lives — should look foolish to the world. Our lives should confuse them. Because of this, I don’t listen to certain types of music or watch certain movies or go to certain places.
We are to be intentional with every word.
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Matthew 12:36
I am an internal processor. I do more observing and thinking before I speak, but I am surrounded by co-workers who do not share my method of processing. They are more prone to loose lips. They insult, gossip, crassly joke and use profanity. It sometimes is a struggle for me to not participate in the gossiping or laugh at the joking. Sometimes I am on the receiving end of their sarcasm or harsh words and my feelings are hurt.
I am trying to live knowing that I, along with everyone else, will give an account for words, jokes, sarcasm and any other word spoken.
We are to be led of the Spirit when talking.
“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:5-6
The only way to soak our speech with grace and salt is to spend time with the Lord so that we become like Him. Jesus approached every situation and person with the perspective of the Father. He saw others as created in the image of God. He never spoke haphazardly. He always spoke with wisdom and discernment. Being filled with and focused on God and the things of God will naturally overflow into our speech.
We are stewards of our speech.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18:21
We are stewards, plain and simple. We steward our time, talent, resources and bodies, including our words. Our words produce death or life. The fruit of our words carries over into eternity. I want that fruit to last and not be burned away. We can bless or curse. We can encourage or discourage. We house so much power that we so easily take for granted. We are stewards of what we speak into the lives of others.
May we be those who think and pray before we speak.
May we adopt words that speak care and intentionality.
May we follow the Spirit’s leading and speak words that bring life and courage.
Do you struggle with what you say and how you say it? How is the Lord changing the way you steward your words?