Words. Words are hard. I stumble over them. I wish I could delete ones that are spoken. Just when I think I’ve come up with the right ones, I realize it is way too late. Frequently, I treat them as flippant, not necessarily weighty or meaningful. And if I’m completely honest, I’ve used them to hurt more times than I can imagine, intentionally or not.
The words of the brother of Jesus in James 3 have hit me hard more than once. He compares the tongue to a fire and restless evil full of deadly poison. He implores his readers to tame their tongue. If you’re anything like me, his words seem intimidating and daunting and crucial all at the same time. If words are this powerful and so many people struggle with keeping theirs in check, how on earth could I? And really, why do words matter so much? Even if we’ve repeated the well-learned lesson of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” we know in our hearts that this just isn’t true. But why?
Our God is the God who speaks.
We follow the God who spoke the entirety of existence into being with just a few words. We follow the example of The Word become flesh. God is pretty clear that his words are incredibly powerful. As those made in his image, it shouldn’t shock us that ours also have eternal significance. Words, yours and mine, matter.
James goes on to say that our mouths should not be a source of blessing and cursing. These words might feel antiquated, but they are just as important today as they were then. I bet that if you think for a few minutes, you can come up with a time that someone said something that really stuck with you, positive or negative. It might’ve been a joking “well we knew YOU would be late” or a more intentional “you have an incredible talent that I believe the Lord wants to use.” These types of words become increasingly powerful when taken as truth and create a pattern of thinking.
I would encourage you to take a look at your thought patterns and ask the Lord to reveal if there are any lies you’ve been believing. If it is a lie you were told a long time ago, it will probably be difficult and painful to root up. But Jesus wants more for you. In Jesus, you are beautiful. You are wanted. You are enough. You are so incredibly loved. He is unbelievably pleased with you before your feet even hit the floor in the morning. He delights in you.
These are some of the blessings found in the Bible about the children of God. Some of them I’ve had to hear hundreds of times before I took them to heart. But you can also be a source of blessing. Your words, every single one that you utter today, have the ability to bless someone today. Paul encourages the church in Rome with these words:
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14,21
You can be a source of blessing today.
Despite the intimidating task of “taming the tongue,” let’s start small and be mindful of our words today? Speak truth over someone, even if it is something simple and small. YOU have the ability to be the source of blessing in someone’s life today.