The Bible teaches us that our words have have a significant influence in shaping our relationships. In Proverbs 18:21 we learn that "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." Your tongue holds the power to build people up, as well as to knock people down. We have the power to influence and shape the situations we face, in either a positive way or a negative way. This is why it is so important to choose your words wisely.
Let me ask you a few questions...
Have you ever been in the midst of a really good conversation and all at once the conversation goes south?
Have you ever meshed well with someone and all of sudden things change?
Has someone stopped talking to you for no reason whatsoever?
I think it's safe to say that most of us could answer "yes" to all of the above questions. It's important to be able to look at ourselves and see if we could have changed the outcome of situations like these or avoid them at all in the future simply by watching our words.
Now, let me ask you a few more questions...
Have you noticed the results of the words you speak?
Are you aware of the things you say or do you just speak off the cuff?
Do you realize that your words are powerful?
Whether we realize it or not our words are very powerful. And... it's not just the words we speak, but our delivery of the words, our attitude behind the words, and our motivation for speaking the words.
What the Bible Says About Our Words
The Bible talks about the power of the tongue in several verses of scripture, as well as instructs us how to speak.
Let's look at some of these scriptures:
"For he who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit." - 1 Peter 3:10
"He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; When he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive." - Proverbs 17:27-28
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." - Colossians 4:6
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Ephesians 4:29
"A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit." - Proverbs 15:4
"Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man." - Matthew 15:11
If we understand the power of our words and apply what the Bible says about them to our lives, we have the capability to change outcomes, make a positive differences, and speak life to others.
Now, this is not a New Age idea; it is not about "speaking our truth," or "speaking things into existence." This is about speaking with intention, speaking truth, and speaking out of love - God's way.
Speaking With Intention
Speaking with intention is the act of knowing what you are going to say before you say it. Basically, it's the practice of thinking before speaking. For example, if you are faced with a situation in which you have to confront or question someone, stop before you speak. Before you address them, stop and ask the Holy Spirit to give you words. Think about what you want to say, the point you need to make, and how to deliver the message so that you don't appear defensive, self-righteous, or presumptuous.
Often times we speak without intention because we knee-jerk react or we just come back with words that are based on feelings rather than facts. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 13:3 that "He who guards his mouth preserves his life, But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction." We have to think about what we should say, not always what we want to say - there's a big difference between the two.
The Bible also tells us to speak the truth. Psalm 34:13 tells us to "Keep your tongue from evil, And your lips from speaking deceit." Don't allow yourself to speak evil or deceit, no matter what. In this case evil and deceit are the equivalent of lying, gossiping, slandering, misleading, or spreading rumors, among other things.
The truth is, we need to be honest and we can do that in a loving way. At all costs, avoid talking negatively about others behind their backs. Also, there is never a reason to lie about someone or spread rumors.
Just be honest... it's not that difficult.
Zechariah 8:16 tells us "These are the things you shall do: Speak each man the truth to his neighbor." In Proverbs 12:17 we read: "He who speaks truth declares righteousness,
But a false witness, deceit." You see, God hears ALL of our words, but not only that, He knows the intentions behind our words.
Speaking Out of Love
Everything we say should come from a place of love. That may be hard sometimes and actually sound completely unrealistic, but we can do it - with God's help. Saying everything from a place of love will have an impact not only on the present, but long into the future as it relates to your relationships with others.
Relationships that have a foundation of speaking in love are those that become the most fulfilling. You see, when the people closest to you know that you speak with love, they will trust the truth of your words and rely on you to steer them in the right direction when they're lost. They will know that your words are solid and upright, and most importantly, Biblically based.
This brings me to the point where we have to look at Ephesians 4:15 which talks about "speaking the truth in love." This means that when we do have to talk to people about some hard truths, for example, we must do it with a heart of love. There is no need to belittle someone or put them down - that will only put them on the defensive. Instead, talk to them lovingly and offer support and guidance if they need it.
Bonus: Always Keep Your Word
Finally, don't forget how important it is to keep your word. Making promises is fine IF you intend to keep them. Today, many people have forgotten how important it is to stand by your word. This not only includes other people, but God as well. Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 reminds us that "When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed - Better not to vow than to vow and not pay."
Further, in Deuteronomy 23:23 it says "That which has gone from your lips you shall keep and perform, for you voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God what you have promised with your mouth."
If you cannot keep a promise, be honest. Don't lie to get out of it, just tell the truth about why you can't keep your word. People will respect your honesty and no trust will be broken.
Never forget that there is power in your words. When you make it a point to speak with intention, speak the truth, and speak in love, your relationships will flourish. Also, when you keep your word, others will know that you can be trusted. The people in your life will know that you mean what you say, that what you say is grounded in truth, and that the love you have for them is an honest love.
Remember, if you find yourself using words to harm rather than to help, heal, or love, check your heart. You may need some encouraging words from the Word of God to help get you on the path to speaking powerful words of encouragement to others.