Words Are Powerful

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV) says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

Words are extremely powerful. Gossip is destructive and it hurts. Hateful words travel to the heart and pierce the soul. Sometimes it hits the brain like shrapnel and can take a lifetime to dislodge. I know firsthand how hurtful gossip can be, how fast gossip travels and how it can destroy one’s self-confidence. I have been the target—by both family and those I’ve held in the high esteem of ‘friend.’

When I was young my mother would say, “If you can’t say nothing good about a person then you should say nothing at all”. I think women are more guilty of gossip than men, however some men like juicy gossip as much as the next woman. I saw a sign once that read, “No Gossiping Allowed. If You Want to Talk About Someone, Talk About Jesus.” Ask yourself, “What good may come of what I am about to say?” If the answer is ‘nothing,’ it probably shouldn’t be said.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to build each other up not tear each other down. Ephesians 4:29: “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.” I think it is more hurtful to have someone who worships the same God as you do hurting another sister or brother in Christ with words and actions than someone who is lost.

Instead of surrounding yourself with people who talk about others and other people’s business, surround yourself with those who talk about ideas and who are interested in solving problems. Ignite rich conversations that illuminate and enlighten rather than tear people down. My mother also said “Any dog that brings a bone, will carry one. ” So be clear that anyone who is gossiping to you is also gossiping about you. Proverbs 20:19 ESV tells us to stay away from someone who is a gossip “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.”

The Bible teaches us that we are accountable for every single word that comes out of our mouths! Matthew 12:36-37 (NIV) “But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned.”

If you are one who gossips you should stop it. God is listening and he does not approve of your speech. Titus 3:2 says, “To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” Proverbs 16:28 ESV says “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.” Gossip causes strife and separates people. Even if what you are saying is true. Stop justifying why you are talking about someone else negatively. It is wrong no matter how you try to justify it to yourself.

The next time you begin to speak someone’s name, ask yourself if what you are going to say after their name is building that person up or not. No in-between answer. It is either yes or no. If no, STOP and don’t say it. Instead, ask the Lord to remove the gossip from your mind and your speech. James 3:8 says “Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison.” Gossip is something that the flesh can not control alone. We MUST rely on God to help us tame our tongue.

If you listening to gossip, stop it. Proverbs 26:20 “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.” If you listen to it then it keeps the fire (gossip burning) If you stop listening, then the fire will go out. Proverbs 26:22 says, “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body. It may feel good to listen and be in the know, but sin often feels good, when it is actually bad.

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Maybe this scripture speaks to where you are right now. Psalm 109:2 “For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.” So how can you be encouraged? I love Spurgeon’s metaphor: “A great lie, if unnoticed, is like a big fish out of the water—it dashes and plunges and beats itself to death in a short time.” When (not if) your reputation suffers an undeserved injury, your quiet integrity over time will say all that needs to be said. Pray for the one talking about you and choose to forgive them.

I will close with this wise quote by George Whitefield:

Let the name of Whitefield perish, but Christ be glorified. Let my name die everywhere, let even my friends forget me if by that means the cause of the blessed Jesus may be promoted. . . . I am content to wait till the judgment day for the clearing up of my reputation; and after I am dead I desire no other epitaph than this, “Here lies G. W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.”

Amen. May the Lord who sees and judges everything give us such a spirit.

The Interrupter

Proverbs 18:2 ESV A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

We probably all know an interrupter. You know, the person who interrupts a sentence before you can even finish your thought. A good conversation is like a game of tennis. You take turns. In tennis you can’t hit the ball until it is hit to you by the other person, otherwise you are just swinging your racket in the air. Conversation is the same way.

Listening is so important to God that not only does he talk about how He listens to us but He tells us how important it is for us to listen to others. He must have known that He could not just tell us to listen, however He needed to tell us how to listen.

Proverbs 10:19 ESV When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.

When I had my corporate job, a common saying was “Little is much.” What that means is you can say a lot in just a few words. Someone who goes on and on, will often not only repeat themselves but may find themselves saying things that don’t really need to be said. Little can be much! Choose your words wisely when you speak. Not everything we think needs to be said out loud.

Philippians 2:4 ESV Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

God says, when we are in a conversation we should be interested in what the other person is saying to us. Sometimes we can’t wait for the other person to quit speaking because we want to say something that is not about them but something about us instead.

Proverbs 18:13 ESV If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

Maybe we interrupt because we think we know what the other person is trying to say and they are not saying it fast enough so we interrupt to move the conversation along. God says when we do this is, it is our folly and shame. In other words, we just might be wrong with our assumptions of where the conversation is going.

When someone cuts you off, it may not be that they are just rude. Here are a few other reasons why someone may be an interrupter: It’s what they learned in childhood, It’s a cultural thing (family, relationships, geography), It’s a narcissistic thing, It’s an insecurity thing, It’s an excitement thing, It’s a power play, It’s a lack of awareness

If you have an interrupter in your life, at home or work, you have a couple of options; you can avoid conversations with this person (Sometimes not possible, and definitely not good for a relationship), you can allow it to continue or you can address it in a loving graceful way.

Try a conversation like this. “Martha can we just stop for a second? I’ve noticed that I haven’t been able to finish my last three sentences. I’m feeling very frustrated right now. Can I please just take a moment to finish what I want to tell you?”

God always lets us finish our sentences because He love us. He has given us the instructions on how to be a good listener. We should all try to follow both His example and His instructions. If you are a Christian and interrupter, ask God to help you and ask God to send other brothers/sisters in Christ to point it out to you with grace and love.

If you are someone who is ALWAYS interrupted by others, evaluate your communication skills. If you are the common denominator, it may be that your skills need improving. Ask someone that you trust to talk with you about what you can change in your communication style.

Conversation back and forth is good. Conversation one way is bad. If it’s your fault stop it. If it’s someone else’s fault it is ok to ask them to stop it. We live in a rushed world where we want to get from one place to another, move from one project to the next and yes, finish a conversation to move on to the next one. I want you to know that what you have to say is important. God wants to hear you and He is never too busy to stop and listen. God is anxiously awaiting for you to make time to talk with Him and you can take all the time you need and want. I challenge you to find time to talk to him today. PS If someone has not told you today, you are beautiful, you are smart and you are loved.

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Intervention

Ephesians 4: 29 (NIV) 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.

Have you ever or are you now the topic of someone else’s conversation in a negative way? Have you ever or are you currently dealing with someone who is trying to ruin your reputation or cause others not to associate with you? How many are dealing with someone at work who may be trying to lie or black ball you, cause drama or even get you in trouble with the boss? Here is the kicker question…Is the person doing this a Christian?

Well obviously, this has been an issue for hundreds of years , since Paul was addressing it, I am sure it will continue for hundreds of years to come. I know, that doesn’t make it right just because it happens. It is probably more confusing when the other person is a christian.

Today I want to encourage you to stop unwholesome talk if you are doing it at church, at home or at work. Have you ever heard the saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. Short sweet and to the point. To me it seems so simple to say but hard to do. As christians we should remind ourselves of this saying often. The book of James in the Bible says the tongue is hard to control.

I think each of us has been on both sides of the isle on this topic, whether in the past or maybe right now. Following God and his instructions for life’s situations is not always easy. It can be difficult to live as Christ has as ask us to do, however it is possible with prayer and God’s help.

Whether you are on the receiving or giving end of unwholesome talk I encourage you to read a few of the following verses, verses 30-32 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Last night I was scanning TV shows and somehow I landed on a program about an addict and his family. This man had been addicted to alcohol and drugs for over 4 years. HIs family had tried many ways and many times to help him with no success. They called in an outside source who led them through an intervention process. He did not do the intervention himself, however he was there to train and encourage the family on how to get the man to ask for help on his own, not to force him into treatment. During the intervention the instructor did nothing. He sat silently in the room and watched as the family members did exactly what he had taught them to do. The man stomped, yelled, cursed and even ran away. The family felt defeated and helpless. Within about 15 minutes he called his wife and said he wanted to get help. In the end, he was able to beat the drugs/alcohol and has been clean now for over 3 years.

God gives us instructions on how to handle this situation and He is the one sitting back quietly overseeing the intervention process. All we have to do is follow His instructions. Like the family, we have to trust God, be patient as He works on the other person and wait for the promised results. God wants us to live peaceably with other men, he says so in His word. Whether we are on the receiving or giving end of the unwholesome talk we need to go to God. We should always remember that others are watching us and listening to us. Why would someone want to be a part of any family that destroys its own family?

Ask God to come intervene today. Regardless of whether you are dishing it our taking it, God can help. It’s time for an INTERVENTION! You got it! Lets do this!

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