The Challenge of Choosing Wise Words

“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:5

As I write this, our nation blazes with a fire of reckless words.

Words are being gathered like ammunition and franticly shot across the aisle.

Many of these words are built on the foundation of an unapologetic arrogance.

A foundation as faulty as sand in a storm…

As Christians, we know we’re supposed to be different. We know that God’s word tells us clearly how our speech should sound:

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6

 “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Proverbs 18: 20-21

“Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.” Proverbs 13:3

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.” Ecclesiastes 5:2-4

Why, then, do we fail at this so often?

The Bible tells us there is an undeniable connection between our hearts and our words (Luke 6:45). So what lies do we believe in our hearts when we fail to use our words the way God intended? What are we believing instead that continues to manifest itself in words that sometimes look more like the kingdom of the world than of God’s?

As someone who has the shameful habit of weaponizing my words, I’ve had ample opportunity to consider the reasons for my self-destructive behavior.

When I sin with my words, here are three lies I’ve caught myself indulging:

I am my own justifier

Sometimes we can spend so much time worrying about the opinions of others we get stuck defending ourselves over and over again. The truth is, we’re running back to chains that have already been broken. Once we put our faith in Jesus, we are free from the burden of having to manage our reputations and free to let Christ be our ultimate justifier in all we do. If we’re going to explain anything, let it be the hope and the joy we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

Admitting a fault makes me weak

The truth is, admitting a fault doesn’t make us weak, being a sinful human has already done that for us quite nicely. Weakness is just who we are. We’re flawed, short-sighted, and fickle more times than we’d like to admit. When we rest in Christ, however, we have nothing to prove. When we rest in Christ we can acknowledge our weakness and then turn our eyes to the strength and faithfulness of our Savior. It’s funny how much less personally offended or uncomfortable we feel about our own mistakes in the light of His glory and grace.

It’s morally superior to be authentic than to practice self-restraint

We live in a venting, ranting, call-them-out culture that applauds self-expression as the highest form of virtue. We want people to “tell us how they really feel” and we despise the perception of being “fake.” But the bible has surprisingly little to say about being our most authentically actualized self. It’s far more concerned with displays of the fruit of the spirit which include love, joy, peace patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and….you guessed it, self-control. These virtues manifest themselves by God’s grace as He works in our hearts. By his power, he is slowly producing a harvest of spiritual fruit so bountiful, there will be no room left for the things of our old self. God promises that the more we deny ourselves and follow him, the more we will actually find ourselves (Matthew 16:25).

Let’s remember this week that our words have power. If we want to speak powerful truth to the world, we have to believe that truth in our hearts.

Ask God to tune your heart to his plan for your words today, ask him to use them to bring peace, healing, and restoration to those around you for their good and His glory!
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