October 12, 2011
When she speaks, her words are wise, and kindness is the rule for everything she says (Proverbs 31:26, NIV).
Friend to Friend
A father took his six-year-old daughter on a “date” to their favorite restaurant. During the meal, the dad did most of the talking as he told his little girl how wonderful she was, how proud of he was to be her dad and how special she was to him and to God. After he had done what he thought was a sufficient job, he picked up his fork and began to eat. His daughter put her little hand on his arm and stopped him with these words, “Longer, Daddy. Longer!” The father said he didn’t eat much food that day, but a little girl’s hungry heart was certainly fed.
Life is filled with hungry hearts. I really believe most of us delight in finding creative ways to touch those hearts and are passionate about introducing them to God’s love, forgiveness and transforming power. However, I wonder how many of us miss the hungry hearts that greet us each morning across the breakfast table, wait for us to come home each night or silently long for us to convince them that they really are not total failures. Every day, we cross paths with people who feel unworthy and unwanted. They have no idea how special they are to us and in the eyes of God. How easy it is to lose focus and scramble priorities. We get so busy doing such good things and miss one of the highest things God created us to do – encourage one another.
One of the greatest gifts we can give the people in our lives is the gift of a guarded tongue. The Psalmist writes, “Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD: keep watch over the door of my lips.” Someone once said, “Lord, please bridle my tongue, so that on Judgment Day, I will not be guilty of assault with a deadly weapon.” The power of the spoken word is great in that words are like seeds. What we plant will grow. If we plant negative words, destructive and critical words, we will reap relationships that are negative, destructive and critical. On the other hand, if we consistently plant words of encouragement, our relationships will flourish. Look for the good in your family and friends – and then speak it. Be a cheerleader for the people God sends your way. Everyone needs a cheerleader!
CBS released a movie about Karen Carpenter, the talented singer who rose to stardom while singing with her brother, Richard. At the young age of 32, Karen Carpenter died unexpectedly of heart failure, the result of many years of abuse caused by the eating disorder, Anorexia Nervosa. What amazed and saddened me most about Karen Carpenter was the underlying reason for her fatal obsession with weight control. It seems that a reporter once called her “Richard’s chubby sister.” Careless words, spoken without thought, can demolish a life.
We need to ask God to teach us to understand just how powerful our words are. Proverbs 31:26 reads, “When she speaks, she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.” How I wish that statement could be said about me. There are days when I desperately want to rip out my unruly tongue or reach out and grasp the harsh words I have just spoken and stuff them back into my mouth. What was I thinking? That’s just it. I wasn’t thinking. We would be wise to ask ourselves these questions before speaking:
T Is it true?
H Is it helpful?
I Is it inspiring?
N Is it necessary?
K Is it kind?
Over the years, I have had many, many opportunities in ministry and in life to learn from my mistakes when it comes to the way I speak and the words I use. Here are a few thoughts for us all to consider:
- Use the five to one ratio when correcting someone – five positive comments to one negative comment.
- The harder the truth, the greater the love with which it should be said.
- Never put confrontational words in writing. Instead, confront face-to-face and write only words of encouragement that can be read again and again.
- Our words should not only be guarded and carefully measured, but should be filled with wisdom and kindness as well.
- While it is our responsibility to train our children in daily living, it is more important that we train them in Kingdom living. Words of wisdom gleaned from God’s Word will not only transform the hearts and lives of our husband and children, but our own as well. Look for every opportunity to emphasize God’s words as a model for the words we speak.
- Make it a daily habit to speak words of encouragement to the people with whom you come in contact. By doing so, your heart and mind will soon be trained to focus on the good in each other. And that perspective builds healthy relationships.
The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29, NIV). I wonder what our world would look like if the words we speak were ruled by wisdom and kindness.
Father, I am so sorry for the careless words I have spoken today. I really do want to encourage and build others up with the words I speak. I cannot control my tongue without Your power and strength. Help me learn to think before I speak. Break my heart when my words hurt others. Teach me how to be a cheerleader for my family and friends so that Your love will flow through me into their lives.
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Examine the words you have spoken today in light of the following verses:
Psalm 141:3 “LORD, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.”
Psalm 20:14. ”May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”
How did you do? I encourage you to memorize these two verses. Ask God to let each verse take root in your heart and work its way out in the words you speak.
More from the Girlfriends
I know the subject of controlling the tongue is a tough one – especially when anger is involved. I constantly struggle to think before I speak. How about you? If you need help, check out my E-Bible Study: Anger Management 911.
Originally published Wednesday, 12 October 2011.