James 3, Proverbs 26: 28
I'm currently listening to Casting Crowns' song, Voice of Truth and it reminds me about a session I ran last week at a youth group. It was about speech and how we use our voice and in turn how the words of others affect us. I thought I would share a few of those thoughts with you.
I vividly remember being on holiday as a child and being amazed by people speaking in different languages. I couldn't understand how what was leaving somebody's mouth, something that just sounded like random sounds to me, made sense to others. I was sure that English didn't sound like that to a non-English speaking person. My resolution was that they heard the sounds but somehow heard them in English, it just sounded unintelligible to anyone on the outside! I now obviously understand things differently from when I was 7.
James 3 reads, 'If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies. Or look at ships: though they are so large that it takes strong winds to drive them, yet they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great exploits.'
Language is a wonderful blessing, but as James warns, the tongue and in that our speech, is also a great force which can be used for harm. The passage continues, 'For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue-a restless evil, full of deadly poison'. I challenged the group I was with (and myself also) about the severity of this phrase and its implications:
Do we always think about the words we choose to use and the affect they may have?
Do the words we use reflect, or cover up what we're really thinking/feeling?
Proverbs 26: 28 says, 'A lying tongue hates its victims, and a flattering mouth works ruin.' I began to think about the way we sometimes feel something, but don't say what we truly mean. Using tactful speech can be true wisdom, but, what I'm refering to, are those situations where we flatter someone, or say affirming words, when really we are jealous or thinking quite the opposite. It's an issue of heart. (Note: I'm not saying we should go around just telling people how we feel about them without any tact or love).
Are we being honest with ourselves about the words we say?
What are those issues that cause us to say one thing but think another?
I can firmly remember as a child, some of the encouraging words teachers said to me when I was in primary school and also some of the not so nice things people said. If I went back to my year 2 teacher, and asked her if she remembered saying I had a nice smile, I'm sure she couldn't remember it but I can.
What words have you left in the minds of the people you have spoken to today?
We may not remember what we've said, as we can sometimes use words carelessly; or maybe we've been hurt and we've said something we might regret; or maybe we got angry at that other motorist who cut us up? Whatever the case, it's important to remember that words stay in the mind of those we talk too.
Have you left Christ in their hearts or your anger/sadness etc?
Maybe we've been subject to unkind words recently ourselves...check out these lyrics from Voice of Truth, by Casting Crowns:
'But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"'
Maybe you find it hard to ignore those words people have said to you that have hurt?
I encourage you to listen to the words God speaks of you. 'But the voice of truth tells me a different story. The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!" The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"'.
At sometime or other all of us will have been hurt by something said to us and all of us will also have hurt someone else (whether we're aware of it or not). To conclude, I'd just like to encourage you in one thing that can help us to overcome any hurt we feel and also to hopefully help us hurt others less!
When reading the Bible, if you're alone, don't keep God's word in your head - speak it out! Words, as James reminds us, have great effect when spoken. As we soak up Gods word, when we are tempted in day to day life to say something Jesus wouldn't have us say, the Voice of Truth comes from within us instead. When someone speaks to us unkind words, we know the difference between what's bad and good and what is of God as His word is within us.
Let's set our sights on becoming more like Him!The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Volunteer Youth worker
St. Peter's Church
View all Life Files by Rachel Nixon