It does matter how I talk.
If I’ve learned more and more of Jesus — and I inevitably love Him more with each new discovery about Him — I want to honor Him with my whole being. I want to speak words worthy of my Lord. And I don’t want my words to hinder others from coming to know Him. So, yes, yes, yes! It matters how I talk!
Words are of utmost importance to a Christian.
(At this point, if you didn’t read Part 1 of this three-part series, you might want to click here for background you’ll need to best understand this second post.)
Inside stuff pours out
If I’m being transformed in my inner being by the Holy Spirit, then the words that pour forth from my mouth should be words of light and blessing to those around me (Prov. 25:11).
“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Prov. 31:26)
What’s in my heart flows out of my mouth (Mt. 12:33-35).
Ask yourself: Would my children and husband, or my roommates, or those closest to me say that I open my mouth with wisdom, and that the teaching of kindness is on my tongue? (Or this: Do I “perform” well for co-workers and Bible study partners, but then spew out anger and irritation on those closest to me?)
For this holds true: If I’m discontented on the inside and sure God has cheated me, defensive and angry words flow out. If I’m full of jealousy and envy, gossip and slander flow out. If I’m seeking to build my own earthly kingdom, words of self-aggrandizement flow out. In each of those instances, my bitter, malicious, rash words are thrust as daggers, meant to wound and tear down, whether I admit it or not (Prov. 12:18).
Ask God to illuminate and prick your heart when you dishonor Him in any of those ways.
And ask Him to convict you when you speak in the following ways — for talk that demonstrates God’s supernatural work also does NOT sound like:
- bragging — Even in it’s subtlest forms, swagger or bluster to maximize my own prestige = bragging. When do you not trust God with your life, and so drop nuanced hints about your greatness, meant to elevate your image in the eyes of others? (Gal. 5:26)
- cussing and/or coarse jesting — What effect are you really going for with even the “least offensive” words? Why would we believe we need to enhance our statements with titillating, edgy talk? Why would a Christian ever need to insert a #@!&!%? (Col. 3:8)
- gossip — Why do I pass on even a tiny bit of juicy info? Because it feels good to bring her down a notch — because I secretly believe I need to be brought up — and tearing her down accomplishes that subtle goal. I want her spot. I resent her. Or, I just want the power she seems to have. And I receive power myself when I’m “in the know” about her insufficiency. Oh, but it’s just a “benign” insinuation you say. God says gossip is never benign (I Tim. 5:13, Prov. 16:28).
- slander — If I gossip about you, I pass along tidbits of defamatory information. If I slander you, I internationally set out to blacken and malign your reputation, all for some sort of gain I’ll myself receive. I mean to smear your good name, and I don’t care if my harmful statements are true or not. When does slander slip past your lips, even in it’s subtlest forms? (Ps. 101:5)
- self-absorbed talk — I talk not with you, but at you. I don’t notice you as a person with needs, because after all, isn’t life actually all about me?
- lies (even “little white” ones) — There are really no little white lies. God hates all lies, little-bitty “acceptable” ones and big, fat ones (Prov. 12:22). When do you choose (often in the pressure of the moment) to exaggerate slightly, or carefully-word the retelling of an event in order to build yourself up or to cover an imperfection?
- grumbling — When I grumble my words reveal that I am believing Satan’s original lie of the Garden — that God does not care, and He does not plan good for me. “I’ve been cheated!” my heart complains, whether those exact words come out or not.
- inane, silly talk — I don’t know about you, but I’m often shocked at the silly, inane talk that spills from my mouth — I only have one lifetime and I want to stop squandering my once-given words with drips of nothingness (Prov. 10:19).
How would you summarize #1- 8? Our Lord does so in this way: Talk that dishonors God pours out life-draining poison (James 3:11-12).
Life-draining poison drains life. If I talk in those ways, you aren’t built up by my unwholesome words. You aren’t encouraged to love God or trust Him. In the kingdom of ME, no edification or grace (to meet your need of the moment) flows from my mouth. No glory or praise to God. No weightiness. No Spirit-wrought talk or demonstration of God’s existence. Only a grieving of the Holy Spirit and glory-seeking for ME (Eph. 4:29-30).
Supernaturally-transformed talk = refreshing words of life
Ah, but in God’s kingdom, refreshing words of kindness and tenderness nourish hearer’s souls (I Cor. 13: 4-7). As I’m supernaturally transformed, I progressively see you more as a person, less as a conduit to serve (or hinder) my desire for peace and comfort. I intentionally word my speech to you to build up your faith, because I want you to know the joy of my Father in all your ways. You hear words of:
- thankfulness and praise from my heart to God (Col. 3: 16-17).
- forgiveness — In Jesus, God’s love covers the multitude of my sins. I want Him to so fill me with a sense of His mercy toward me that I gladly extend to you the same forgiveness I’ve been shown.
- prayer — If I am praying to my Father for you, I’m not spending time speaking ill of you or gossiping about you.
- intentional edification — I notice your need (whether you’re my friend or the lady at the drive-through window) and I speak in a way that gives grace in that moment. His Word dwells richly in me and I listen to Him before I speak. When I do speak, I speak with the purpose of extending to you the same sort of grace God has given me. I may instruct you, or admonish you, or teach you, but I only do so from a heart overflowing with the rich love of Jesus (Col. 3:16-17).
For His love is rich indeed.
Click here to link to the next post — Part 3: So, how do I rid myself of talk that dishonors Him? Or, if you missed the first post in this series, click here to read Part 1: Why do I rid myself of unwholesome talk?