(Note: A downloadable PDF copy of this lesson is available on the last page.)
WORDS, WORDS, WORDS…
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.
…I’M SO SICK OF WORDS
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:
For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the Iikeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way (James 3:2-10).
It is clear that you either build up or chip away at your self-respect by your choice of words.