Proverbs 8:8 NIV
8 All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse.
Can this be said of your words? We may teach our kids "sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt me" and the truth is we are wrong, words do hurt, they sting, and sometimes what we don't say also hurts, how we say something can hurt as well. I am guilty more than anything of saying things in the wrong tone or way and hurting or making people upset. We all can be guilty of using our words to hurt others whether it's intentional or not, doesn't change the end results.
The photo image I am using today I've not been able to shake from my head, I used it recently in a sermon with one of my sermon points in my PowerPoint slides and it gives a powerful visual of what our words can do to someone, maybe it's more alarming because the words are hurting a child, but it paints a picture for me of how our words can truly hurt others.
Sometimes we say things in anger, sometimes it's sarcasm, crass, crude, rude, disrespectful, disloyal, judgmental, harsh, critical, mean, ugly, resentful, vindictive, selfish, or some other adjective you can think of, but whether our words are based on what's on the inside, our emotions, or feelings, or some other reason, those of us who are Christians must learn to control our tongues better, practice self-control, and learn to think before we speak and choose our words more carefully and wisely.
You can still voice your opinion without coming across negative, you can still have your say without being disrespectful, you can still express your feelings without being mean or ugly, you can defend the truth and still speak in love, you can share your frustration without being argumentative. The key to all of it is learning to control your emotions and responding instead of reacting, and taking time to choose your words more carefully.
Have I offended people? Hurt peoples feelings? Pushed someone away? Gave someone a bad opinion of me? I'm sure I have and maybe you have to all with the power of our words. Words can build someone up or tear them down. Words can encourage or discourage someone. Words can build self-esteem and self-worth or destroy it. Words can help resolve or help hinder things. Words are the key and the words come from our heart. If our heart is angry, hurt, ugly, selfish, resentful, etc...then we are probably going to spew out words that match.
Jesus in Matthew 12 tells us that a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will bear bad fruit and a tree will be recognized by it's fruit, He directed this at the religious hypocrites of His day(Pharisees) and called them vipers and said this in vs 34 For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (read Matthew 12:22-37 for entire text). Wow! What truth Jesus tells them and it should speak to us today too, if we want our lives to bear good fruit then we have to have our heart in the right place and if our heart is in the right place the overflow from our heart will speak words of encouragement, truth in love, peace, and positivity.
While there are times we must be direct, blunt, honest, and deal with ugly people or bad situations, problems or issues, we still can guard our hearts and words so that we do not make a bad situation worse or create more problems by our negative or bad attitude. Choose your words more carefully or better yet get your heart in the right condition.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.