Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Throughout history much has been written about the potential for either good or evil via the words we speak. One even went so far as to say, "Thoughts expressed may sometimes fall back dead, but God Himself can't kill them once they're said." Although that junior poet may have overstated the case, he did have a very healthy respect for the power of the spoken word. There is perhaps nothing that can sever a relationship faster than angry or unkind words. And, conversely, loving and considerate words, when sincerely spoken, can effectively cement a relationship.
The apostle James also recognized the power of the spoken word. In his epistle, he has much to say about the evil of speaking slanderous, lying, or deceitful words and about the results of such evil "speech patterns." Turn to James 3:5-12. Look at verses 5-8. In what ways is the tongue like a fire? Why is it so difficult to tame the tongue? Is this ever a problem for you? Think of specific situations where your tongue has gotten you into relationship difficulties. Did you speak too quickly? Too harshly? With too much tone in our voice? What can you do going forward to minimize or prevent this problem?
Now look at verses 9-12. James suggests the real solution to curbing sins of the tongue is not just refraining from certain words or expressions, but in being more firmly rooted in what motivates our speech. Therefore, what we need to ask ourselves is this: "What is it that motivates my speech as a Christian?" The answer, of course, rightfully hinges on our love for God and how we display that love in everyday life. As Christians, our speech patterns are prompted by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and are part of our loving response to Him and to those around us. God's love for us in Jesus Christ moves us, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to follow our Lord's directive: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another" (John 13:34).
Our speech patterns and the way we communicate, of course, will never be perfect. Unintentionally, and sometimes by design, we speak words that hurt others and strain relationships. When we do this, we need the reassurance we receive from God's most gracious pattern of speech—that Word which was from the beginning, the Word which was sent for our good: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, may our words glorify You and be sweet sounding in the ears of those who hear us. May we use our tongues to build up and not tear down. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by a contributing writer from Lutheran Hour Ministries.
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