The use of words is the most common subject that comes up in my consulting room. This is a difficult subject to write about, because words get tangled up with the emotions as well as with a person’s mental activity.
With words, we compliment and praise one another. Our words can be comforting, helpful, supportive, instructive–revealing all those good things that are on our minds.
On the other hand, words can cut, hurt, or tear someone up without leaving a mark. Words can be used to deceive, mislead, or conceal what is on your mind.
- They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips…they speak (Psalm 12:2).
- The tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceit; with his mouth one speaks peace to his neighbor, but inwardly he sets an ambush for him (Jeremiah 9:8).
- Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him (Proverbs 29:20).
Many people have long ago forgotten the spankings received as a child but can recall vividly some of the tongue lashings and hostile criticisms received along the way.
Married couples who seek counsel have long ago forgotten the tender words exchanged between themselves but can easily recall some of the stinging, sarcastic, critical, deceptive words that seem to weld themselves on their minds. As the Bible puts it:
- “He who guards his mouth and his tongue, guards his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23).
- “And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
- “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18: 13).
- “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).
The Bible makes it clear that hasty words, a fiery tongue, concealing your true thoughts, complaining, slandering, lying, and deceit, are unacceptable to God. Your own sense of self-respect depends in part on your knowledge of how you manage your own words.
The positive use of our words does not imply a spineless person who has no opinions or takes no action. We are surrounded by responsibility for employees, fellow laborers, family members, and friends. Frequently, everyone must deal with the evil intentions of other people.
Jesus, when instructing His disciples, taught them:
“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him. . . and if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him” (Luke 17:3-4).
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul instructed him:
“Preach the word: be ready in season, and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
So, along with David the psalmist, a good objective for anyone can be as he stated it:
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, 0 LORD, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
1. When you are aware that someone has something against you, it’s your move. Jesus says:
“If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that you brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24).
2. When you have something against someone else, it’s your move. Jesus says again:
“If your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer” (Matthew 18:15-17).
What is Jesus saying? Simply that whether you have something against someone, or someone has something against you–either way, it’s your move to go to that person and go out of your way to attempt a reconciliation.
If you use the Bible as your guide for your choice of words, you are on the road to Christlikeness.
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This is an excerpt of Chapter 6 from Dr. Brandt’s book I Want Happiness Now!