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good words

I’ve been thinking a lot about something recently.

Words.

They’re so very powerful, aren’t they? The Bible has a lot to say about the words we choose to use. There is such power in the tongue–to build up or to tear down. To bring life…or death.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” 1 Cor. 12:10

I have been noticing something here in my own home, in various social settings, and in the world of blogging. Let me start by telling you that I am no Bible scholar.  Some parts of the Bible I actually struggle to even understand. Some people don’t particularly like The Message version.  I love the thing. It’s clear and simple in those times when every sentence I read elsewhere sounds like the New King James version to me (sorry homeschooling moms….me and the NJK are really not very good friends). I have a simple faith. I take God’s word at face value. I believe what it says, the way it says it. I don’t tend to delve into deeper meanings and possible variations on what a Scripture means.  If the Bible tells me to “love your neighbor,” that’s what I’ll do. Period.

So I sat up way too late the other night visiting blogs, some new to me and others that I am more familiar with. All were “Christian” blogs. I kept reading and reading. My eyes were opened to something I don’t really give much thought to very often. As I read through umpteen posts and comments too, something struck me.

Why, as people of a Holy God who instructed us to only use good words, is it so easy to fall into the patterns of this world? Grumbling. Spewing negativity. Finding fault with each other. Making nasty comments (all in the name of differing in opinion, of course). Why? What’s the point of it? Are we not set apart to do good works? Are we not called to let our light shine before men? And what about that salt and light thing?

Of course we are! We’re called to be different—not of the world, yet in the world. We’re His beloved here on the earth. We’re the ones He has called and anointed us for a time such as this to bring the GOOD News to a world gone crazy.  And it’s getting crazier by the day.

Sometimes I feel like we, the people of God, forget that we are called to use kind words, to extend much grace (for we are all human—trying to make our way through this life) and to accept one another for who we are in Christ—flaws and all. Myself included here. It is so easy for me to get riled up about something and make my opinion very clear. I fall into negativity, hopelessless, fear, and anxiety…and boy, can I let that be known! I grumble, complain, whine, get myself in a tizzy over some things, and I get my knickers in a knot with the very best of them.

Trust me, I know full well that times are tough. Anthony and I are walking through one of the most challenging seasons of our lives–and the end is just never in sight. I know it’s the same for many, many people. I understand adversity.

BUT.

We’re called to praise God IN the storm! We’re called to be joyful in all circumstances, in all seasons, and in every challenge we face–always putting our hope in Christ, always letting the peace of God reign in our hearts, and always being mindful of the fact that God ALLOWS our circumstances! Yes, He sure does. Chuck Swindoll once said that nothing reaches us before first passing through the hands of a loving God. I love that.  If these are my circumstances, allowed by my Father in heaven, then what right do I have to grumble about them?  Is He not God?  Can He not change my circumstances?  Of course, He can!  But for some reason He has kept us in this holding pattern…and we HAVE to be okay with that. Ultimately it’s ALL for His glory. 

Just this morning Anthony and I were talking about the Israelites.  During the great Exodus God kept them in that desert for years and years.  They had many lessons to learn while there.  But they complained.  They grumbled.  They didn’t trust in God’s sovereignty.  How much did the Father despise their grumbling?  We wondered how many times in our own lives we have been just like those Israelites.  Too many to count.

Grumbling about our circumstances tell the Lord, “I so don’t trust your sovereignty to get me out of this.”  Either He’s Lord of all, or not Lord at all.

Whether we’re in the desert or standing on the highest mountain, our words matter.  Sometimes I miss the mark completely. I forgot just how powerful my words are–and that they can bring LIFE into any desperate situation.

I have felt so concerned recently as I have observed our own children in these things. How easy it is for them to say mean things to one another without even thinking twice about it. When I confront them about it, the response is usually something like, “But so-and-so says that to their sister.” Right here in my home my kids fall into the patterns of others. They hear things, they see things, and they figure that what works for someone else is quite fine for them too.

Not!

It’s not okay! I don’t care if every other brother on the face of the earth is calling his sister the newest little crazy saying that someone made up.  Unless it is edifying and uplifting, it is NOT okay.

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

A few years ago Anthony was marrying friends of ours. Before the ceremony he asked the couple to each come prepared to publicly speak a few “good words” over each other on the day of their marriage. During the ceremony he explained to the guests that eulogies were always reserved for funerals, but really that the Greek translation of the word means “good word”–something that could (and should) be done way more often than just at a funeral. How sad it is that we tend to only speak good words over someone when they’re lying in a coffin and can’t hear us.

Recently I have been reminded that I need to make so much more of an effort to speak those good words which build up, encourage, love, edify, praise, and spur my friends and family on to be all that they can be in Christ. I long for my children to make a habit of it while they are young. I want them to know that good words bring life. Negative, bad, contradictory to God’s Word, grumbling words, serve absolutely no purpose….no matter how old you are.

“The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in His sight.” Proverbs 15:26

Even in the worst of times, God is good.

Even when life makes zero sense, God is good.

Even when the storms come and rock my little boat, God is good.

Even when I am so deep down in the valley that I cannot even see the mountaintop in the far off distance, God is good!

And so, as it says in the eleventh verse of 1 Corinthians, I have been “examining my own heart” much in the last few weeks. I will bury His promises in my heart and KNOW that He works out all things to the good of those who love Him.  I will let the words of my heart (and the words on my blog, and in my family, and with my friends) be pleasing to my Father in heaven—for that is what He asks of me.

So as far as I can tell, in my very simple faith, the Bible is as clear as daylight….

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil 4:8

For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

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