Thursday, February 28, 2013

Words of Life

A few weeks ago, I saw a photo on Instagram with the caption,

"Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
Ask yourself:  is it true?
Then ask:  is it necessary?
And then:  is it kind?"

Just a few days later, I again saw another IG photo that said,

"Before you speak, 'THINK'...
T--is it True?
H--is it Helpful?
I--is it Inspiring?
N--is it Necessary?
K--is it Kind?"

Both of these were wonderful reminders of how careful we need to be with our words and how important they are to the receivers.  Words are pretty huge in all our lives.  Everyone at one time or another can recall a harsh or even cruel comment made by someone that still permeates your being.  Funny how those things never go away and seem to play over in our minds more than the good things people have told us.  It almost feels as if we need 10 good remarks for every bad one.  Words can be opinionated, sarcastic, and jaded, or they can be thoughtful, considerate, and hopeful.  We can literally waste our own time and that of our listeners by uttering things that aren't truly valuable or needed, let alone speaking things that hurt or bruise.  Words essentially build-up or tear-down--they are a blessing or a curse.  They can feed another person's very soul forever or maim their identity and countenance eternally.

A few months ago, I wrote another blog entitled, "What Not to Say."  In it I discuss similar ideas regarding words and how important it is that we speak lovingly, thoughtfully, and truthfully with one another.  Therefore, I don't need to go into another lengthy diatribe on this topic here.  But after seeing these two quotes so recently, I wanted to reiterate the idea that words bring either life or death for those to whom we speak.  No one needs to hear this more than myself.  Though I try very hard as a, "recovering people-pleaser," to be careful, considerate, and encouraging in my speech to others, I am, at times, too forthright and can also be way too wordy (I know, I know...tell you something you don't know)!  A friend of mine always self-deprecatingly apologizes for her prolific speech by saying, "I'm sorry, I have diarrhea of the mouth!"  It is a funny phrase, and I can so relate.  Since diarrhea is nothing anyone wants, it's a good metaphor and reminder for me also to be wary of my over-talkative tendencies.  Peace and quiet are good things, and sometimes they feed the souls of those around us more than anything we could ever say to them.  We all need people with whom we can just be still...with whom we can just, be.

On that happy note, I conclude this short [for me] blog-post with some of my favorite Scriptures on, "words" (I'm going to let the Lord do the lengthy talking today).  There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of verses about our speech and the power of our tongues in God's Word.  He must have known we'd need lots of reminders.  I would ask as you read (or skim) over these passages, that you'd first pray for God's guidance and conviction in your own heart and life on this topic of, "speech."  He certainly has been convicting me.  May God bless you all today, and praise be to Him Who in His mercy and love for us, forgives us of our shortcomings in this area and every other.  He only desires to bring us all into closer fellowship with Him, with each other, and into better living for His glory, His purposes, and for His name. 

Scriptures on "Words:"

Proverbs 18:20-21, "From the fruit of his mouth a man's stomach is filled; with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit."

Psalm 34:12-13, "Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies."

Proverbs 12:25, "An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."

Psalm 119:172, "May my tongue sing of Your Word, for all Your commands are righteous."

Proverbs 8:13, "To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech."

Psalm 139:4,"Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O LORD."

Proverbs 10:18-21, "He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool. When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of judgment."

Proverbs 10:31-32, "The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse."

Proverbs 11:12-13, "A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret."

Proverbs 12:22, "The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful."

Proverbs 15:1-2, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly."

Proverbs 12:17-19, "A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies. Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment."

Proverbs 15:4, "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."

Proverbs 15:28, "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil."

Proverbs 16:24, "Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Proverbs 16:21, "The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction."

Proverbs 18:13, "He who answers before listening--that is his folly and his shame."

Proverbs 21:23, "He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity."

Proverbs 22:11, "He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend."

Proverbs 25:11-12, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man's rebuke to a listening ear."

Proverbs 26:24-25, "A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him, for seven abominations fill his heart."

Proverbs 28:23, "He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue."

Ecclesiastes 5:2-4, "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow."

Ephesians 4:29, "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."

Colossians 4:6,"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Colossians 3:8, "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips."

Ephesians 5:19, "Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord."

1 Thessalonians 5:11, "Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing."

James 1:19-20, "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

James 1:26, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."

James 3:5-6, "Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

James 3:9-12, "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."

1 Peter 3:9-11, "Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.  For, 'Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it.'"

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7b, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  a time to be silent and a time to speak"...