Lately it seems like all I hear is on the negative. The lack of faith in people today is growing. They have lost faith in others. It is heart breaking, and in some small way, I see now why Jesus wept while He looked out over Jerusalem. He stood on the Mount of Olives and He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Today we kill the prophets and stone those who have been sent- but we do it in a much harder and more lasting way- we kill people with our words.
Being in the work force, and sometimes even in my own home- I see and hear negative word slinging that has become the norm for so many of us. Instead of encouraging one another and looking past the many faults that they have, we slander, gossip and tear them down with our words. Do you know how hard it is to let words like that not affect you? Remember that old saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That is a lie. Words are the greatest form of pain that you can afflict someone with. Words never leave. That is one of the reasons why The Word of God is so powerful- because they are God’s Words toward us. Words do not go away like bruises or breaks, they stick with you- once a word is spoken, it cannot be taken back.
When I woke up this morning, my heart was very heavy. You see, we have some issues within our family. In fact, they are some pretty big issues, and they all started with words. Words that just came out of our mouths without the thought of how they would affect the person being spoken to. How many times have I heard women, mothers, wives say that something their parent said to them stuck with them for a very long time, to the point where it affected their walk with Jesus Christ. They were unable to trust the Lord because of the words that their father spoke to them. Or they were unable to fully surrender to their husbands because of something he said to her. Words are so powerful, and yet they are the simplest form of communication that we have been given.
What we say determines a lot about us. If I meet someone who says they are a Christian, I listen to them. I listen to them speak about the Lord God, and in the midst of that, their hearts are revealed. You can learn a lot about a person by listening to them. Jesus also tells us about how words give our hearts away. “So He said to them, "Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?" And He said, "What comes out of a man that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." Matthew 7:18-23
From within us, in our hearts is where the root of all our communications and actions begin. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. We can control what comes into our bodies, such as what we eat, what we watch and what we listen to. But deep inside us, where the true intents of our communications come from, is the heart.
When we say mean things to others, we are not only speaking them to that person, but we are also speaking the words out loud where others around you as well as the Lord God hears and sees. Does that mean that we will not be forgiven? No, of course not, God always forgives those who repent. Our thoughts begin in our hearts- even the Lord Jesus, who created us, tells us that. He said, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts…” Our words begin in our hearts. If we say we are a Christian, then our words should match out deeds. If we say we believe in Jesus Christ, then our deeds should match our words. Saying you are sorry over and over again, without changing anything does not make sorry a believable word. In fact, true repentance begins in the heart (along with everything else) and it will change you- from the inside out.
We all have faults, we all have sins, we all have spoken things we should not have- done things we should not have, but there is hope. Repentance beginning in our hearts and seeking God for change is what will bring broken relationships to a place of healing and wholeness; it will make the hurtful words spoken begin to dissipate from our minds. But we have to first admit that we have hurt someone through our words and then ask for forgiveness, from the one we have hurt and then from the Lord Jesus Christ.
You may be saying- well, it is hard to control the tongue, sometimes I just say things- I don’t really mean them, it just comes out. I too have said the same thing, but have been convicted by the look of hurt in the recipient’s eyes. We are going to lash out- we live in a body of flesh, which is inevitable. But it is how we respond and repent after we have lashed out that makes the difference in our relationships. It can be very difficult to love someone who is hard to love, but that does not give us the right to sling hurtful words at them.
As I was praying this morning, 1 Corinthians 13 came into my mind. As I read it again, I realized that Paul was saying a lot about what we speak as well as how we live. He started the chapter with, “Though I speak with the tongues of angels, but have not love, I become sounding brass or a clanging symbol.” He started this whole chapter about love with the word “speak”. We can speak eloquently, we can speak with great authority, we can speak to move the mountains, but if it is not out of a heart of love- then it is all in vain, and the recipient only hears hurtful words upon the ears.
We give our hands to feed the poor, but we forget to say kind words to our kids. We lead people to Christ, but we forget the ones that need the leading the most- our families. We travel the world spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we forget to say thank you to our spouses for putting away the dishes. Kindness is what the Lord is asking for, kindness in our words- the deeds and actions will follow.
So what is the answer to my dilemma this morning in regards to our little family dispute? Kindness, it is something we are all going to pray for and practice. I actually saw this on a TV show and I think it is a good idea, so we may try it in our family as well. Gather your family together with pen and paper in everyone’s hand. Have each member of your family write down one thing about each other they would like to see change. I think we may be amazed at how many of us hear from our kids or our spouses, “be nicer.” It starts from within- and then it moves outward.
If you are the recipient of hurtful words, then may I encourage you today to go to that person and tell them what is hurting? They may or may not receive you- but that is not up to you to decide. The Lord Jesus Christ is waiting to take that hurt from you. Go to Him, ask Him to give you the wisdom, the strength and the gumption to go and speak to that person. Give it to Him first, let Him be the one that speaks through you. Then and only then will the hurter of your heart be able to open up and hear you. If they do not receive you still, the Lord said we are to dust the feet off our shoes and walk away. Take your hands off of it and let the Lord God have His say. Go to God in prayer today, ask Him who you have hurt, and who is hurting you- then, repent, forgive and turn the other direction. May the God of all peace give you comfort and wisdom, strength and grace today. Amen.