I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Do you want to know what my biggest temptation is? The thing I struggle with the most? My greatest battle where I am constantly defeated?
I like to talk. I love to write. I love to read. I'm a wordy person. By themselves, words are a wonderful thing. A person can do so much with them. They can convey feelings and thoughts, experiences. Without words it's hard to live; whether they are spoken aloud, written, or signed. A person needs to communicate.
My words on a daily basis get me in to trouble. I find that too often I'm using them to hurt someone. My greatest weapon is my mouth. It can be my best friend, but at the same time, it is my worst enemy.
I've either said too much, or I've not said enough. It goes both ways. When I fight with anyone, my mouth does the hand to hand combat. I've seen the daggers my words can inflict on a person. I've seen the fallen eyes, the tears that roll after. You can never take them back. They are a wound that doesn't always heal. I've patched a few injuries from my speech, however the scar always remains.
Maybe you find this surprising about me. Maybe not. I'm sure those closest to me would have to agree. My children and my husband are the ones who I can be at perfect ease with; the ones who hold my biggest battle scars.
Your words are a fire.
I am always reminding myself of this verse in James chapter 3, "It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell." verses 5-6
The entire third chapter of James says it beautifully.
God has been speaking to me about this for many years in fact. When we are wounded people, we tend to hurt others. The more healing that I have received from my past hurts, the greater ease I have in fighting my temptation. Ten years ago, I would say I was extremely wounded and angry all the time. Over the past two years, God has changed my life.
I am not the same person.
I would say there is a difference as though it were night and day. God opened my mouth literally, and life has poured forth. On another day, and another time I will share the story with you. To me it was nothing short of miraculous.
The more healing I get, the more vocal I become; the greater responsibility that I have. I can use my words to tear down those who are most precious to me, or I can use my words to build them up and encourage them.
Yesterday as I was reading my Bible, the verse I highlighted was this: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6 [ESV]
The Message says, "Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out."
I put these words to memory so that I would be reminded of them the next time I wanted to run my mouth. Just that morning I lost the fight with my mouth, and I gave in. I used my words to hurt, instead of spoken in love; they were spoken in anger. I apologized as I always do, but I still know the scars can take time to fade.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt.
We had the discussion at dinner what does this mean. I have a daughter who gets her mouth from me, and needed the exact same admonishment from God. I included the definition of gracious.
1. pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous.
2. characterized by good taste, comfort, ease, or luxury
3. indulgent or beneficent in a pleasantly condescending way, especially to inferiors.
4. merciful or compassionate
The first and fourth definition stand out the most to me. I think being kind and courteous is very obvious. I especially liked the last one, "merciful and compassionate" It also read, "Like a king extends mercy."
How many times am I using my words to give mercy? To pardon or lesson a punishment. That's what the dictionary says. I often use my words to give the punishment, or to make it more severe.
May your words be seasoned with salt.
Have you ever had dish without seasoning, one that decidedly needs it? It tastes very bland, with no flavor at all. Seasonings are designed to make things better, not take away from.
Our words should be the same way. Full of life and flavor, changing the person for the better.
"Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Colossians 4:6