Words can be used to build up or to destroy. They are extremely powerful.
Her words hadn’t meant to hurt me but, in all actuality, they were like a knife cutting into all of my most vulnerable places. I had been silently grappling with the same questions and ponderings she was asking me for months – but somehow someone else asking me these same things threatened to break me in two. She, who was talking to me, has a beautiful heart. She wasn’t for a minute trying to break me – she was trying to understand me and encourage me.
We can all relate
We can all point to instances in our lives when our words tore someone down, or when someone’s words tore us down. Hopefully, we are more quick to recall times when other people have used their words to encourage us.
In today’s world, it may not be anything we say that hurts people, it may be the words we write. In an era of social media, it is a lot easier to say things we would never say to someone’s face because we can hide behind a screen.
When we read verses about the tongue, let’s use those same ideas and apply them to what we write.
4 ways to tame your tongue
Check our heart
Words need to be intentional before we even open our mouths (or put our fingers on the keys). We need to pray that what comes out would glorify God. We may have the best of intentions but if it is not subject to God’s glory, it will fail – every single time. Something that may sound encouraging in our ears comes across as hurtful to the receiver. So then, how can we make sure we are using our words to truly build another up?
The most important thing we can do is to pray and ask God to use our words to help and not to hurt. We can pray that we would get out of the way and allow God to work. I have had times where I was more concerned about being the person that gives my friend the perfect word, than praying and making sure what I was saying would actually be helpful.
God wants to work through us, but it’s important that we rid ourselves of pride first.
We are so quick to talk but the Bible actually tells us to be slow to speak
James 1:19 –My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry
I strongly believe much of the above problem would be fixed if we just took the time to really listen to each other. Actively listening does not mean we are only half way listening. Instead of thinking about our response will be –listen to what they are saying. Practice not forming a response until your friend is done talking. It is only then that we will hear fully and be able to respond with wisdom. Ecclesiastes 5:2 says Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
Asking questions will help us to better understand where the friend is coming from. May I encourage you to ask questions that aren’t going to do further damage to that friend? Say for instance your friend had a miscarriage. Asking her why it happened will only hurt her more. However, asking “I don’t understand the pain you are walking through, never have gone through it myself, can you help me to better understand how you are feeling and what (if anything) I can do to help?” will open up a healing door for your friend.
Remember the golden rule
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’… And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
We must keep in mind how we would want to be talked to if we were going through the same circumstance. Ask yourself “is what I am trying to say true, noble, helpful? Will it encourage or discourage?” These questions will further help our response to be given in wisdom.
A final thought I want to share is we need to be careful to avoid the “snare of offense”. It seems like everyone is offended about something these days. If our friend unintentionally hurts us with their words, let us not set up a tent in the land of offense. There is no need to camp there. Forgive your friend just as Christ has forgiven you and move on. If you feel it would help you to talk to your friend and let them know their words hurt you, do so but please don’t stay offended.
Choose your words carefully, aim to bless and not to harm!
What do you do to tame your tongue?