Words have power. It’s a cliched idea, but words can speak life and they can speak death. They can hurt or they can uplift. They can bruise or they can heal.
This week, God has been calling me to pay more attention to the words that I speak. I would say that on the whole, I am not a terribly mean person – granted, I have been mean to people countless times before, but have at least improved in the sense that my words are not said with ill intentions or to hurt people. But there is still a long way to go, and God is calling me to pay attention to the following areas:
1. Words of sarcasm: I can tend to be exceedingly sarcastic at times. Sometimes it’s through jokes, while other times, I just get impatient and the sarcasm in me comes out. While sarcasm is not intrinsically bad, I believe that some sarcasm has roots in bitterness and anger. This is not good. Other times, sarcasm can just hurt people even though I may not know it and they may not say it.
2. Words I speak to those closest to me: I think this is true for everybody, but I tend to less carefully choose my words when it comes to immediate family and my close friends. While I love these people so much and try to speak words of love, the angry and harsh words I may speak have the potential for more hurt to them than if I spoke these to a stranger. Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
3. Useless words: These words come when my mind is running non-stop or when I am just in a weird mood. Usually these words end up being jokes I make (usually terrible jokes!) or even silly stories I tell about my life or my day. None of this is terrible in itself, but these words can be pointless and at worst, selfish. I have to remember that there is a time to speak and there is a time to listen, and that time I spend talking aimlessly could have been a moment for someone to share with me their story.
Today, I pray for a spirit of gentleness and wisdom when it comes to my words. I pray that the words I speak build others up instead of tearing them down. I pray that I can be a better listener.