Straight up - I have never gotten such an offensive email as I did two days ago.
In fact, it prompted me to think about the impact of words, actually the real
power of words . . . whether spoken, sent in a text message or written in an e-mail, words have p-o-w-e-r. Words can encourage, words can wound, or at the very least, deflate. How about yoooo? Are you careful with what comes out of your mouth? Do you stop and think before you carelessly throw words about?
This morning, Anthony Thompson (who lost his beautiful wife in the Bible study shooting, but chose to forgive the shooter)1, preached a powerful message. In his inimitable genteel, but emphatic style, he challenged fathers to leave a legacy of faith to their children, to speak words of blessing over their young. 'Be careful what you say, Fah-therrs,' he spoke in his fine Southern drawl, 'like the psalmist I say, May the words of my mouth ...' and I heard the sister
sitting next to me chime in with him ... 'and
the meditation of my heart be acceptable
to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.'2
Yes, this morning, I had the privilege of worshiping
at Mother Emanuel Church3 and this saint of a lady,
born into the Mother Emanuel congregation, is soon to turn 94 years old. It was clear she spoke out the
verse as she's done hundreds of times in her life.
'May my words be acceptable to you, God!' Yes, Lord.
Stop for a moment and think about the influence you wield:
Are you a parent? O, your words have the power of life or ____ . . . !
The power to build up or tear down.
King Solomon said, The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.4
Are you a manager or a coach? O, how much power is in your words! Funny thing, whether or not we realize it, all of us influence other people, even strangers we meet along the way as our words carry enormous weight - more than we sometimes think. They often impact people for decades, providing the courage to press on or one more reason to give up.5
Truly, no matter your lot in life, no matter your place or position, what you say is highly influential to others - perhaps what they think and without doubt, how they feel. I think of our Lord who said,
And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day
for every idle word you speak. The words you say
will either acquit you or condemn you.6. yikes.
How you doin'?
Spoken in my best Joey Tribbiani voice
I ask such a question because even those of us who endeavor to be
careful with our words must indeed take stock and ask the guidance of God.
When my kids were all at home, I often had this verse on the refrigerator: Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth... or, as one translation says "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."7 Do you purpose to speak words of encouragement to others? Sometimes silence cannot be improved upon. And Thumper was right.
One more thing - some of us might have to work extra hard because we are quick witted and can make a sharp 'funny' remark, but it is at someone else's expense. My dad had a bunch of those - 'she can't help it she's so ugly, but she could stay off the street!' What good would such a remark do anyone?
Better to keep still. Some of us have to guard critical words that are as poisonous as an asp, and still others must become aware that they have a natural bent to complain . . . neither is pleasant!
Let's seek God's help on this all-important area of all of our lives:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Please make us aware of our words, whether we
speak words of truth, kindness, and encouragement ...
or whether we get careless, crass or crude.
Holy Spirit, birth in us the fruit of self control, that
we may discipline ourselves to build others up, and
look for openings to bless others.
God, it is our desire to honor you in word,
thought and deed. Help us, O Lord.
In your mighty Name,
Do not miss these great resources:
1 - Rev. Anthony Thompson wrote a book I have ordered: Called to Forgive
2 - Psalm 19.14
3 - Mother Emanuel Church of Charleston, SC, is the home of the Emanuel - Nine, who were
killed while in a Bible study; it is the story of redemption, forgiveness
**I saw EMANUEL last night and it is powerful. Emanuelmovie,com June 17 and 19
4 - Proverbs 18.21
6 - Matthew 12.36-37
7 - Ephesians 4.29, NLT, NIV