Lessons from childhood are hard to shake aren’t they? We are taught to be “nice” little girls and boys. But last week I was reading in Proverbs 15 when I was struck by some words that caused me to say, “Hmmm . . .”
Do you ever do that? Do you ever say, “Hmmm . . .” when you read something in Scripture that really catches your attention? I looked this verse up in a few more versions of the Bible and even with slightly different wording, I was struck . . . with conviction!
The first part of the verse is obvious right? Truthful and encouraging words from the heart are healing, life giving and empowering. The second part of the verse however, spoke to me in a brand new way.
Unlike a deep Bible study, my daily Bible reading is simply reading through the Word asking God to show me what He has for me that day. When something grabs my attention I mark it and ask the Lord why He’s highlighted that particular portion of Scripture for me and how He wants to speak to me. Today I’m giving you a glimpse into what God showed me from my own Bible reading because I think that, just maybe, it will speak to some of you as well.
When I read the second half of this verse, “a deceitful word breaks the spirit,” this is what I wrote down in my journal:
Why? How could that be? What could be wrong with a few good words spoken to someone who needs them? What’s wrong with making someone feel better about themselves? They are JUST words aren’t they?
Before I answer that I have a confession to make: I am an encourager and promoter of people by nature but sometimes, when I’m feeling awkward and can’t think of anything to say, my awkwardness causes silly words to jump right out of my mouth! Speaking without thinking. I dislike insincerity intensely but as I read that verse I could actually think of a time or two that I blurted out a compliment that wasn’t from the heart, wasn’t true, in my attempt to make someone feel good about themselves.
Hear this! Words have life! Life began with God’s spoken word. Scripture tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue so the words we speak to others have a huge impact on them. False compliments can give wings to bad ideas, causing people to pursue paths they shouldn’t, or waste time on areas they really have no gifting for. False words may keep people from changing something in their lives that they need to change, and even miss out on the real purpose that God has for them.
The exact opposite is true of sincere words of affirmation which water the seeds that God has planted in a person’s life and helps to cultivate God’s plans.
The Bible is filled with verses about being careful with our words, and for good reason! We can speak life or we can speak death. We can help set in motion God’s plans or encourage things that aren’t meant to be.
Dear Lord, Please keep a guard over the door of our mouths and help us to be slow to speak. You tell us to stir up and encourage one another, so may the kind words we speak be true, life giving, from the heart, and always led by your Spirit.