Mother Teresa believed and so do I, a kind word is never wasted. Words are more than the sum of letters placed in a particular order. One of the earliest Proverbs I recall my Mother teaching me offering this advice: “A soft answer turns away wrath; but a harsh word stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Years later I learned the validity of these words as I strove to establish relationships and friendships within my family, the workplace and they have the same effect coming from the pulpit. Thousands of years later Solomon’s words remain true and I thank my Mother for teaching me their value for everyday living.
Everywhere we look we see and hear of conflicts and agitations being stirred up because of something that someone said that someone else did not like, appreciate or agree with. The twenty-four hour news media and multiple communication instruments make it easy for us to witness the profound consequences and repercussions of words daily in our personal-social circles, national politics and international diplomacy. It has become increasingly difficult to hide from spoken and written words that wounds and inflict pain and suffering
on both the intended victim(s) and innocent bystanders.
“A man’s belly shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips shall he be filled. Death and Life are in the power of the tongue; and they that love it shall eat its fruit.” (Proverbs 18:20-21). Solomon speaking to us in this Scripture tells us that the things that we want and speak into existence, the more things we speak, they shall fill us. The question is not whether we shall be filled but what part of us shall be filled and with what? Shall it be our mind, heart or soul that is to be filled with anger, hate and despair or joy, happiness and peace? I believe, strongly, that it is entirely up to the person to decide.
Solomon tells us in a previous verse of Scripture; “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth; and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!” (Proverbs 15:23) The key
lesson here is “his mouth and due season” meaning spoken by the right person, at the right time, in the right place and to the right person. Furthermore, the Prophet Isaiah says; “A man’s word shall be his burden,” and a heavy load it can be. It has been said; “the tongue works faster than the mind.” How often we speak before thinking?
Words can set both our minds and heart at peace and make our souls rejoice, when rightly spoken. When spoken in anger and with contempt they stir up strife and make for bad relations with our friends and families. “Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24) Solomon sounds like a rap artist, making rhymes about the good things in life. Anyone that has ever tasted honey knows that it is one of the sweetest natural substances known to man and possesses many good health qualities as well; words can have a similar effect.
Once a word is spoken and hits the airways, it’s like a bullet fired from a handgun, there’s no calling it back. It is going to hit and hurt someone or something either by design or default, it does not matter, hurt is the final outcome. “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue.” We can find many examples in our lives where on one hand simple words may have squelched an idea or caused someone to fall from grace, and on the other hand words can bring forth increase and harmony. Words may be spoken with good intentions or out of mischief with only one certainty, once spoken there’s no taking them back.
Thinking before we speak is not enough we must insert a pause, to protect both the innocent and the not so innocent. Again, we cannot change the past but we can ruin the present by worrying over the future. Consider this; because you said something doesn’t mean you have to stick to it, practice saying “I’m sorry or I was wrong.” Also, you cannot forget what you heard, but you can forgive the speaker, if it was not you doing the speaking. Just because you heard it or said it, does not make it true or proper; always consider the source, as well as the addressee.
Do not let words from your past spoil today worrying about what impact they may have on you or your life tomorrow. Commit now, to speak a kind word today, to an old friend or a family member that you have been at odds with. I promise you that your day and life will be better for it. Tomorrow will take care of itself your primary responsible is to you and your fellow-man or woman. We live our lives one-day-at-a time and we must speak our words one-at-a time, “kindly and affectionately one-to-another,” that’s the way God commanded them to be spoken. “For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37).
Grady Norman Greene, Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Our Christ
- Words Have Consequences: Life Or Death (prhayz.wordpress.com)
- Who Does Your Tongue Serve? by Darlene Minshew (gracefullwomen.com)