The Words We Speak
A fine layer of sawdust covers my garage floor—evidence of another project in progress. My husband’s haven includes things like a table saw, a band saw, a planer, and a sander. More tools hang from the ceiling or have a place on the shelves against the wall. An unfinished chair occupies the corner, waiting to be sanded and stained. I could sit on it now, but it’s not ready. It’s still a little rough around the edges.
I feel like that sometimes. A little rough around the edges. When I’m tempted to respond with a curt word. Or worse, when I’m tempted to unleash my fury with a roll of harsh words. Previous experience tells me this is rarely, if ever, helpful for anyone. Whoever said “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” was a liar. Words can wound.
In his brief letter, James says we can tame the wildest animal, but we can’t tame our own tongue. James also mentions a spring of water. It’s impossible for bitter and sweet water to come from the same spring. And yet, that’s exactly what we do with our words.
“Praise and cursing come out of the same mouth . . .
these things should not be this way.” (James 3:10, HCSB)
My grandma used to say, “People are like teabags; you find out what’s inside when they’re dropped in hot water.” What’s inside us will come out. Eventually. Lord, help us.
Our words reflect who we are at our core.
I don’t want to be the kind of person who spews bitter words. If my heart is like a spring of water, I want my words to be sweet waters. Is change possible? Yes! When the Israelites left Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they journeyed for three days without water. They came to a placed called Marah, but they couldn’t drink the water because it was so bitter. Moses asked God what he should do, and God showed him a tree. Moses threw the tree into the water, and the water became sweet (see Exodus 15:22-25).
This is more than a nice story about a water-changing miracle. This is a picture of what happens when we yield to the tree of Calvary—the cross. When we surrender our lives to the Christ, He cleanses us and we receive the Holy Spirit inside us.
One of my favorite proverbs says,
“Wise words are like deep waters;
wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook.” (Proverbs 18:4, NLT)
Are the words I speak sweet and nourishing? Or bitter and rotten? Do my words edify and uplift? Or berate and tear down? My deepest heart’s desire is that my words are a spring of sweet waters, of deep waters. It’s possible too. When we’re immersed in God’s truth, we overflow with God’s grace.
That chair in the corner of my garage? It’s not finished yet. And neither am I. Thankfully, God’s grace abounds, and when I remember the grace that God has so lavishly given me, I am compelled to extend that same grace to others. And that should be evident in the words I speak.
Throughout the Week . . .
This weekend Pastor Mike Breaux challenged us to reflect and consider the ways we respond to others.
- How are we doing when it comes to the words we speak?
- Would others consider our words as kind and gentle?
- Review Galatians 3:16-26. What things are mentioned as the fruit of the spirit? What things are mentioned as the opposite?