Speak Life! Your Words Have More Power Than You Realize

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speak life

All my life, I’ve heard things like “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Certainly, I know words have the power to hurt. And as TobyMac sings in Speak Life, words also have the power to heal and to help.

But, have you considered that every word you speak falls into one of those two categories?

This past weekend, we had a guest pastor at my church, and the way he put it in his message, ALL words have the power to hurt or heal— even the words that you think are neutral.

He gave a powerful testimony of how, in the early years of his marriage to his wife, the words he spoke to her were very hurtful—and their relationship was rocky as a result. Through the prayers of his wife, and the Holy Spirit convicting him on the matter, he changed. And of course, their marriage improved greatly.

What really floored me, though, was a story he told about a married couple he counseled. They were struggling with infertility, with no physical explanation. Long story short, it was caused by hurtful words. Yes, words: when the wife was a young girl, her mother caught her “messing around” with some boys. The mother, wanting to put the fear of God into her daughter, told her that God would never let her have children because of what she had done.

Whoa. So, having learned this, the pastor prayed over the couple, as he put it “asking Jesus to anoint them with fertility”, and undo the damage those words had done. And, guess what? They started popping out babies, and now have four children.

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. -Proverbs 12:18 (NIV)

Watching What We Say

All of that really got me thinking, am I doing all that I can to speak words of life?

The more I thought and prayed over it, the more I see there are a lot of areas I could improve on.

How much of what you say is life-giving, versus life-draining? You don’t have to curse up a storm or hurl insults at someone to hurt them; what you don’t say can hurt too. It can also be the way you say the words, like yelling versus speaking softly.

But no matter how good or bad you are with your words, there is always room for improvement. Like with so many things, you and I as believers in Christ will be learning and improving on this throughout our Earthly lives.

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)

flower speak life words

Speak Life: Four Areas for Improvement

There are some things that should be obvious (cursing, hurling insults, yelling, etc.), but it’s the seemingly innocuous stuff that I know I definitely need to work on. See if you identify with any of these behaviors:

  • Greet warmly: Have you ever met with someone, or came home to your spouse, and launched right into a “I need you to do this”, or grumbling about your day—instead of first greeting them? I’ve caught myself doing this a few times. Instead of saying “how are you” or giving a hug or whatever is appropriate, I just start complaining. Let’s make a point to greet people warmly first, before anything else. Which brings me to the next item…
  • Shift negative to positive: How many of us complain about every little thing, and don’t even stop to think about it? The other day, we had our first cold snap here in Texas. It was 90 degrees one day, and 45 the next. So, when I came home from work of course I complained about the cold. When what I should really say, is “I’m so glad to have a warm house to come home to”. Consider how often you complain. Most of the time, you can shift that to a positive statement of gratitude. And you know it will make everyone happier, yourself included!
  • Speak kindly: Sometimes, it’s not words of insult that hurt, but words said jokingly. I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of teasing before. Being a quiet person, I can’t count how many different people have said to me “Barbara, you need to tone it down” or “Barbara, you really need to stop talking so much”. They mean to say I should talk more, but quite often it just feels like an insult to my character. That’s not to say that teasing can’t be received well (like laughing with someone vs. at them), but in those situations when you’re tempted to tease someone, consider whether that will be hurtful or helpful to them.
  • Speak up: Like all introverted and quiet people, I’ve got tons of room for improvement in the speaking-vs-not-saying-anthing department. More often than not, it’s what I don’t say that could hurt. Even if it’s just leaving the other person as they already are, versus saying something that could lift them up. This is something I definitely hope to learn and get better at!

Which areas of your life do you need to speak more positively in? Plant life-giving words of encouragement and positivity, and you’re bound to see beautiful growth spring up in yourself and others. And, don’t forget to speak life to yourself as well!

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