Words are powerful.
Lately I’ve been studying the book of Jeremiah, where the prophet talks about the power of words. At the same time, I picked up a book by Eugene Peterson called Running with the Horses, and in this book he too explores how we are to be truthful and honest with our words in a way that is glorifying to God.
I think it’s fascinating—though not a coincidence—that God has brought all these resources to me at just the time when I need it the most, and needless to say, I’m realizing that I have to be very careful with how, when, and where I use my words.
“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.” Ephesians 4:29
This is a powerful message about how we are to speak. Likewise, over in Matthew we read this:
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” —Matthew 5:37
I’m convicted by this message as I realize just how few words I should be speaking. Why do I feel compelled to use so many words? Why do I think I need to be heard? Why do I choose the words that I choose?
Lately I’ve been living by the phrase: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.” —Proverbs 10:19
Pride is such a powerful sin. I don’t want to use my words to manipulate, to control, to take advantage of, or to demean others. All of these responses come from selfish motives, and on my own, this is often how I would use my words. But thankfully we’re not on our own in this journey.
While my flesh will want to fight and continue acting in pride, the Holy Spirit within me convicts me and leads me to use my words in a very different way. When I am able to respond to others in love, using my speech for the glory of God and edification of others, I know the Spirit of God is at work in me. This is the supernatural power that Christ talks about when He sent His Spirit to take over. When we do not let the Holy Spirit guide our speech, we minimize His power within us.
I’ve not always been the best at this, and I still have a long way to go. But as my friend Don said to me recently, “This is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.” When we say yes to Christ, we each began a lifetime journey of maturing into the person God intended us to be.
I know that God created me to be a certain way: I’m verbal. I enjoy communicating with people, but I want to learn how to communicate effectively. I’m learning to speak less because I want to listen and learn more.
We’ve all gotten to the point where we say, “I’m incapable of doing ___!” And we’re right. We are incapable. But the Holy Spirit is capable. And willing.
My desire is to listen to what the Holy Spirit is telling me to say—or not to say—in each moment so that I can make sure my speech is building people up instead of tearing them down.
Dave Dravecky is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Dave’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/davedravecky/
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