“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29 (TEV)
If you really want to know what is in your heart, check the words that come out of your mouth. Jesus said, “… The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart.” Matthew 12:34b (NCV) How do you think those closest to you would describe your speech? Do your words build others up or tear them down? Are you building bridges that strengthen relationships or building walls that divide them?
The truth is words are powerful. The Bible says that life and death are in the power of the tongue in Proverbs 18:21. Think for a moment of the impact someone else’s words have had on your life. Did they heal or hurt? Were they encouraging or discouraging, comforting or condemning? How did they make you feel? Sometimes we may not remember exactly what someone else said, but we rarely forget how they made us feel. Paul tells us to speak in such a way that we build others up and not tear them down. Our words should minister grace and help draw others closer to Christ.
James talks about the abuse of the tongue and how the devil can use it to destroy the work of Christ. Someone once said that a sharp tongue is the quickest way to slit your own throat. If we’re honest, we’ve all slipped and let a sharp tongue wound those closest to us. Those words were revealing what was in our heart. Being confined for this long during a pandemic can bring out the worst in us, especially when we disagree. Maybe you can relate. Disagreements can lead to conflict and conflict can cause our conversation to be offensive and hurtful. But have you considered how God may want to use the conflicts and disagreements we’re experiencing with one another to build character in us and help us learn to walk hand-in-hand even when we cannot see eye-to-eye?
How is that possible? Learn to embrace the differences as a good thing. We are all different and we have different points of view. It doesn’t necessarily mean one is right and the other is wrong. We are just seeing things differently. God loves diversity. He created us to be different. Unity does not mean uniformity. Rather than raising your voice a notch or two above healthy decibels maybe God is giving you and me opportunity to learn to disagree without being disagreeable.
I want to challenge you today to spend some time reflecting on the words that have come out of your mouth the past few days and weeks of confinement. What do they say about the condition of your heart? The Psalmist prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT) We live in a broken world with broken relationships that come from broken hearts. Ask God to help you be a bridge builder and not a wall builder. Look for ways to build others up around you and not tear them down. It may just save a life!