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watching our words


The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.”

(Isaiah 50:4)

A good friend of mine once shared an analogy with me that illustrated the far-reaching impact that our words can have. Imagine a man with a large down-filled pillow standing at the top of a high hill. Suddenly, he tears the pillow open, shaking out its contents. In seconds, the four winds scatter thousands of tiny feathers in all directions. Some are driven miles away. Despite our best efforts, it remains a virtual impossibility to find and gather all of the scattered feathers. Our words are very similar in this regard. Once they have left our mouths they are impossible to recover. Like the scattered feathers, they are out there in the world, influencing things in ways unimaginable to us. God only knows what effects our words have had on our world. For certain, our words reveal who we really are. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7) and “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Matthew 12:34). Our words can expose us as fools (Ecclesiastes 5:3) or demonstrate that we are wise (Ecclesiastes 10:12). Our words show us to be humble or prideful, gracious or unwilling to forgive. Our words can be very powerful, like a sharp sword that kills (Psalm 57:4; Proverbs 12:18) or a snake’s venom that poisons (Psalm 140:3). “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21a). The Lord’s half-brother, James (actually, Jacob), had much to say on the topic of minding our words and taming the tongue (James 3). When God wanted to reveal Himself to man in a decisive and maximal way, He did so by sending His incarnate Word (John 1:1, 14). Today’s verse passage refers to the Word’s blessed ministry as One Who would speak words of life (John 6:63), peace (John 14:27), forgiveness (Matthew 9:2; 12:31; Luke 7:47-48) and encouragement (John 16:33). Paul instructs us to follow our Lord’s example, speaking those things that are edifying to our hearers. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,” wrote the great apostle, “but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Whether interacting with families at home, or with fellow saints in the local assembly, or out in the world, may our speech always be with grace, “seasoned with salt,” that we might answer every one properly and appropriately (Colossians 4:6). With our words may we comfort ourselves together, edifying one another, even as we have been doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

God bless you, dear church family,

Pastor John

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