“I recently came across this 1997 bulletin article by my friend and preaching colleague, the late Dee Bowman entitled “Be Careful What You Say.”
“It bothers me how we treat one another sometimes,” Dee began from one of his journal entries.
He pointed out that the “The Scriptures say a lot about loving your brother, about making sure that he comes first in your preferences, that he is accorded the kind of respect and honor he deserves, even when you disagree with him.”
Dee continues by expressing concern for when we use our words as “a flailing stick,” or by “constantly shooting others down.” He suggests that in our discussions and disagreements, even when we are right, we can still be wrong by what we say and how we say it.
From private discussions to chats over a cup of coffee to family gatherings to public presentations to just casual conversation, we both express and consume a lot of words every day.
A New York Times article, December 9, 2009, referenced a University of California report that the average American consumes 43GB of content and 100,000 words a day. That doesn’t mean we read all of those words, but that in a single 24-hour period 100,000 words cross our eyes and ears. The information comes through a variety of media–TV, movies, the Web, video games, texting, recorded music, and print media. Another study of 396 participants showed that both men and women spoke approximately 16,000 words a day.
I wonder with facebook and other social media outlets if that number has increased in the past 12 years?
Not surprisingly the Bible has a lot to say about your words.
“A good word aptly spoke is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Prov. 25:11)
“The tongue has the power of life and death…” (Prov. 18:21)
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).
“A man finds joy in giving an apt reply — and how good is a timely word! (Prov 15:23).
Think about your words in the many situations in which we find ourselves.
- You can speak a loving word to your spouse.
- An encouraging word to your children.
- A hopeful word to a disheartened friend.
- A thankful word to someone who serves you. A soft word to an angry person.
- A kind word to a fellow Christian.
- A forgiving word to someone who has wronged you.
- A friendly word to a stranger.
- A cordial word to a co-worker.
- And a cheerful word to all that we chance to meet.
Conversely, your words, can have the opposite impact.
- A careless word may incite strife.
- A brutal word may wound the soul.
- A cruel word may discourage and depress.
- An angry word may rupture a relationship.
- A thoughtless word may hurt the heart.
Your words reveal what’s in your mind and heart. Warren Wiersbe observed, “It is by our conversation at unguarded moments that we reveal our true character.”
Indeed Jesus says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”
He concludes with this sobering warning, “.But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give an account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:35-37).
Seriously, consider your words. Whether written or spoken.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman