“Don’t let any evil talk come out of your mouths. Say only what will help to build others up and meet their needs. Then what you say will help those who listen.”
I love words. It’s one of the reasons I love to write, so many words with deep meaning can come together and create a complete thought. That thought can then translate into an idea, and ideas become unstoppable. They create change and leave an impact, but we have to be careful with our words. Many times, we get excited by the power of positive change and movements from people because of words, also have the capability to tear down and destroy others. I have a deep love of words, but I also understand that they have a dark side to them. It all depends on how we utilize this powerful tool. We all have a responsibility with our words, one that we can use to build up and encourage, or tear down and crush others. Today I want to talk about the impact of speaking life can be towards another person, because we need this more than ever.
The verse above came to me after getting a text from my friend Johnathon Enoch. After my post last week (Where I talked about some uncertainties and fears that come from that) and Johnathon sent me a message that was just such an encouragement that I needed during a long day. It made me think about that scripture from above where it tells us not to have evil come out of our mouths, but words that will build others up. This means that speaking life is vital in every action and every word that comes out of us. I think the world needs more of this. I want to spend a little bit today to talk about the vital importance it is and how it can change the lives of everyone around you.
Words leave a mark.
There used to be an ad campaign against bullying with the main concept being the words said about someone, would be written on their face. I think that’s a visceral depiction of what we are capable of doing. We see it happen all the time. We are living in a world where we make sexist jokes, make rap songs about rape, and simply limit the potential of others with the words we speak and say it’s okay. We tell our daughters they aren’t pretty enough and tell our sons they can’t be emotional. It has to stop. We must stand against these norms because we believe that God made each of us in his image. We need to teach our children to use their words to speak life, to stop the putrid hate that comes from our mouths and what we type. I am furious about the words I see and hear. I think we all need to be furious. What if instead of words that degrade us and make us feel worthless instead told us how beautiful we are, how we make an impact in the world, or how we are talented and unique. Our words leave a mark, so be careful of what you say.
Actively choose life.
Bullying is one of the hardest things to go through. I’m pretty sure all of us have had it happen to us in some way or another, maybe you’re experiencing it now. We all know the sting, but sometimes we choose to sting others. I’m guilty of it too, and I’m not proud of it, but we have to be wise with our words. We have to actively fight back what the world around us tries to tell us. There are so many examples of celebrities, athletes, and the president who have all used words to tear someone down or to bully another person. We cannot allow these actions to become normalized in society, because we are called to be greater than that, we are called to speak life. When God tells us to not let any evil come from our mouths, he really means that, even to those people we don’t like. It isn’t easy, but it’s necessary. We are called to speak words that will build others up and meet their needs (encouraging others) even to people we don’t like. Some may not care or choose to continue to speak death, but if at least one person changes and is encouraged, the task has been worth it.
Shift your mind.
So, what are practical ways this looks? I think the first is that we have to evaluate how we speak and act. One of the biggest turn offs I have when meeting new people, is someone who tries to act as if they are better than me. No one is better than anyone else, we all have something to offer. Even as Christians one of the biggest issues that we have is the idea that anyone who isn’t a believer is now your enemy and you must always defend your faith. Sure, you may have that happen, but the majority of people want to feel loved and accepted, not turned into your enemy or project to fix. Our job is to be a light in the darkness, even Jesus hung out with the misfits, so we need to be willing to reach out and love everyone around us. We need to stop making “jokes.” The quotation marks are representing the jokes that cut others down and are then supposedly mended by a “just kidding.” Jokes and having fun are good things, but it should never cut someone down. There is a girl’s shirt at Target that my girlfriend and I saw that said “Kindness is cool” on it. I love that. I think we need to shift our thinking to be that showing kindness in love to others can create a huge and lasting impact on the lives of everyone we meet. We must shift our mind from personal gain, to humbling ourselves to put others first.
Our words have such a lasting impact. Not only can they encourage, but they can also kill the spirit of people around us. We need to make an active pursuit of speaking life over death to those all around us. What would happen if we told people they were made in the image of God? That this means they are awesome and beautiful, and have a purpose on this earth? We would see a positive change that would impact many to come. We need to speak life. We need to stop trying to get ahead or be more important than someone else (whatever that means). We need to show love and realize that kindness is cool. This week start speaking life, stop speaking words that are evil, and watch the impact you will leave.
Speak life and encourage those around you.