Words That Help
In the course of our lives we are confronted by unfairness, by unkindness, by disagreeable circumstances, and often by disagreeable people. Before offering a verbal response in these situations, we would do well to recall this truth learned from our Lord: our words reflect our hearts (Matthew 12:34). If our words are not Christlike, we must look first not to our mouths but to our hearts. Equally, it is an indication of our Lord’s work within us when we respond to conflict and challenge with words that help rather than those that harm.
Our tongues contain immense power, and we may leverage them to help, to encourage, to affirm, to enrich, to reconcile, to forgive, to unite, to smooth, and to bless. It is not by accident that so many of the Old Testament proverbs address the words we speak. According to Solomon, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11). He compares this use of words to lovely earrings that adorn the beauty of the wearer and to beautiful ornaments that enhance the loveliness of a home (25:12). Perhaps his most classic statement about the power of speech is his observation that “a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (v 11).
What is it that makes for such life-giving language? How can our mouths be those that bring blessing to others? Words of blessing are marked by honesty, by “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). They are thoughtful, spoken by one who “ponders how to answer” (Proverbs 15:28). They are often few and marked by reason: “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding” (17:27).
And, of course, helpful words will be gentle words. Though it may be hard to remember in the throes of difficult circumstances, it remains true that “a soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). Indeed, a gentle response wells up from moral strength; it takes far more self-control to respond in gentleness than to give way to unbridled passion and anger.
What will mark your words? Will you commit yourself to using your tongue—that small but immensely powerful member of your body—to bless rather than curse, to give life rather than tear it down, and to help rather than harm?
Resolve today to use your words for the good of those with whom you interact, honoring Christ in your heart and letting His sweet aroma fill your speech. Then humbly acknowledge that you cannot do this yourself (James 3:8), and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit—the Spirit who grows peace, gentleness, and self-control both in your heart and in your speech (Galatians 5:22-23).
Keep in Step with the Spirit
16But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21envy,4 drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
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