Words - Building up or Tearing Down?

We all know people who have a bad habit of speaking first and thinking later. My grandmother had a favourite phrase, “The easiest words to take back in the morning are those that are left unsaid.” I am sure you can think of times when you said something and as soon as the words left your mouth you knew it was wrong and wished you could take it back but it was now too late. When we were children and people would hurt us, our mom would come along and tell us it is okay because sticks and stones will break our bones but names will never hurt you but that
really isn’t true. Sometimes, words can cut like a knife being jabbed right into your heart and though you say it is alright and you forgive it is not always easy to forget them. It might take hours, days or even years to try and really forgive and maybe fade but not forget.


 

There are several scriptures that tell us how our words affect those that hear them. Proverbs 25:18 in the Message Bible tells us “Anyone who tells lies against the neighbors in court or on the street is a loose cannon.” and then later in verse 23 it goes on to say “A north wind brings stormy weather, and a gossipy tongue stormy looks.” In the same Proverb is says in verses 21-22 to do good to others when they hurt you and then you will be rewarded by god. Matthew 5:44 CEV says it again “But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.” I can hear your questions – why should I do good to them, you don’t know how badly they treated
me but God does, he saw their words and he still says to pray for them. Why go down to their level it not only hurts them but you leave feeling badly and thinking you shouldn’t have said that or acted like that.   There are times when correction needs to be given but others when things are just better left alone and unsaid.


A case where things that were said almost changed
history forever is found in the story of Nabal and Abigail. David had been hiding in the hills trying to stay ahead of Saul and his men. He has his own band of soldiers he has gathered together and while he is in the hills he is protecting the sheep that belong to Nabal from predators and enemies. We are not just speaking of a few sheep but several hundred. David knew that Nabal was celebrating the sheep shearing season being done with lots of food and wine and sent his men to ask for some provisions. You might think this normal since he had been such a help to Nabal but he didn’t think so, in fact, he was appalled that David should even ask and sent his men away. Wrong words…

 

David became so angry that he wanted to kill not only Nabal but all of his men which would have affected everyone else. In those days, the women owned nothing and unless they had family to take care of them they would instantly become homeless and destitute. A servant told Abigail what happened and luckily for everyone Abigail did know the right words to say. She carefully and quickly moved into action. She got lots of food to take with her and set out for her encounter with David. She carefully and very intelligently speaks to David and convinces him that god would not want him to have that blood on his hands. After she tells her husband what she has done he has a heart attack and dies ten days later. For her wisdom and use of the correct words she is honored by David and be asked to be his wife.

 

In this case it wasn’t the words that were left unsaid but the use of the correct words used with wisdom and grace. Think of the day you have just had, what you thought about and what you said to those you have been around all day. What about that person who gave you your morning coffee that made your order wrong once again-did you get frustrated and be rude or did you keep your cool and try encouraging them? How about the rest of your day? Was it filled with words of encouragement for others or were you taking part, even if only by staying and listening to gossip and complaining. Have you ever wondered how your words really affect others? When you speak what are others really hearing? It is too easy to speak and not worry about what it is really doing to those around us. Let’s try to not be the person who leaves the
store and thought I should not have treated them like that but rather be lifters so that people look forward to you coming back again.

 

Remember: Proverbs 17:22 “A cheery heart is good
medicine but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (NIV)

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