It always amazes me the breadth of different things that stand out in scripture every time you read through it. As I read, I remarked other things I’ve taken notice of in the past, but as I looked at my notes, there was one theme that seemed to stand out to me this time around:
This intrigued me as I looked over the verses I had highlighted, but it’s true:
Jesus made a big deal of words.
“For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?”
The Gospel writers were very deliberate in their recording of Jesus’ words. They wanted to make sure that Jesus’ teachings were as clear as possible for their audiences, and not hindered by details that didn’t fit with their message. That’s why there are differences in the Gospel accounts—each author sought to distill the story of Jesus down to a clear message that would resonate with his audience.
Even today, advertisers spend millions of dollars ensuring that there are no wasted words in the ads they produce—everything is carefully planned out through product knowledge, market research, even psychological responses. Why do you think most stores no longer have ‘closed’ signs? It’s because ‘closed’ is a word with negative connotations, and it can put off potential customers.
Why then, when we have such a profound message to share, do we so often fall into the trap of saying things without thinking? How is it that we can so easily hurt those we’re closest to with hasty speech?
out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks…
The words that we speak say a lot about what’s going on in our heart. When we’re having a bad day, it’s all to easy to speak out of the tiredness, frustration and hurt. Conversely, when we’re having a good day, we’re far more likely to say positive things that build up and encourage the people we speak to.
So how, then, do we keep a tight rein on our tongues so that we don’t go around hurting people just because we’re having a bad day?
Ultimately, I think the answer is simpler than we make it out to be.
It’s not about some list of habits that will help us to make sure we always have a good day—that’s impossible.
Instead, it’s about doing precisely what we’re doing here—spending time with God and letting Him be a part of our lives.
do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say…
Jesus said we would face times of hardship—up to and including the threat of death—for following Him. It’s in those circumstances that the words that we speak need to come from Him and not from ourselves. He promised that the Holy Spirit would give us the words to say when we face persecution, in order to enable us to ‘give an answer for the faith that we have,’ but in the end, if our hearts are full of Jesus, then the overflow from which we speak will be honouring to Him, and speak words of love and encouragement, even when we’re in need of some ourselves.