teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name... psalm 86:11

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Every morning I have the same routine when I get to my desk- check the headlines, check my email, and then read a chapter of Proverbs (there’s 31 chapters and usually 31 days in a month, it’s perfect). I’ve always known there to be great little nuggets of wisdom in Proverbs, but this month I’ve been super struck with the amount of them having to do with our WORDS- both the quantity and quality of what comes out of our mouth. I have to admit, it’s been incredibly convicting!

When we’re little we’re taught that silly rhyme: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…” Such lies- words DO hurt! Harsh, critical, destructive words… or in some cases just the sheer lack of positive, encouraging words… create deep wounds in us and leave us with carefully constructed walls up. These careless words flung around are what break relationships, feed vicious cycles of pain, and often hinder people from experiencing true communion with others and with God!

There are four proverbs (12:6,18; 15:4; 18:21) in particular that have been really sobering- each of them present the idea that our words fall into one of two categories… they either hurt and kill or they heal and bring life… there is no middle ground. I know we live in a culture that promotes authenticity and tells us our feelings are valid- which they are- but this doesn’t give us a license to run our mouth on the basis of it being our opinion or our experience. Our words have power and we can’t ignore that.

Churchy answer, but look at Jesus- He is THE word. He of all people had the right to be angry and frustrated and to call people out. And he talked… a lot… and people listened. So what kinds of words did he speak? He spoke words that were full of Spirit and life, full of grace and truth. The only harsh words recorded of Jesus were saved for those who oppressed others with their words and opinions- something worth taking note of! Our words reflect what’s going on in our heart, there’s no way around that fact. When we speak words of bitterness, anger, and pride- it shows the ugliness inside US more so than what our words were intended to be about. But when we speak grace, truth, and life like Jesus did, it shows God’s work of transformation in giving us a heart like His.

So I’ve been praying for more of a filter, that I would think before I speak… and that I wouldn’t let the gossip, criticalness, and sarcasm around me influence what comes out of my mouth… because scripture clearly says that I am accountable for my words (Matt. 12: 33-37). There are a few proverbs that really resonated with me, so I’m claiming their truths and trying to apply them:

- kind words clear the air, mean spirited words just add to the drama [10:32]
- the wise accumulate knowledge before speaking rather than rambling about nothing [10:14]
- negative talk kills relationships and community [11:9,11]
- a gossip won’t be trusted with anything [11:13]
- a gentle response diffuses anger [15:1]
- gracious words are good for the soul [16:24]
- the wise count their words rather than ramble on and on like a know it all [10:19]
- irresponsible talk makes messes, but honest words can bring healing [13:17]
- your words affect your reputation [16:21,23]

May we learn to ask ourselves first if what we are going to say is kind… wise… helpful… encouraging… true… inspiring… necessary… And if it’s not, may we learn the spiritual discipline of staying silent.


  1. This is one of the lessons I remember best from House Parties sophomore year... You encouraged us to make sure that all of our words were "kind and wise." That phrase still sits in the back of my mind all the time and it's such a good reminder.

  2. Aw, I love it Carissa! We had a good group that year, didn't we?! :)