Why the Words You Speak to Others Matter More than You Think
It’s so much more fun to talk about grace than obedience but once again the words of James make us squirm, and today he has all of us in the crosshairs.
Most of us have experienced the devastating pain of cruel words and they seem to be especially hurtful when they come from someone close to us. But even if they’re from strangers…
The words you and I say matter!
In many ways, social media has amped up the volume as more and more people feel free to snipe and snark at one another taking every opportunity to harshly criticize and judge everyone and anyone.
Yes, there seems to be an avalanche of negativity everywhere we look. And the truth is, it leaves a mark . . . often one that can have devastating consequences.
It probably won’t surprise you that I follow mostly Christian sites. Yet sadly, I often see examples of Christians throwing stone words at one another there as well.
James clearly has a word for us…
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?James 4:1, 11
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.
Jesus summed up the law as love for God and for our neighbor.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”Matthew 22:37–39
So, the question you and I need to ask ourselves is:
Are we making our words matter and using them to show God’s love?
We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to call sin okay. But we are called to say something constructive . . . things that help not hurt. Things that are true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable, Things that are worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)
A Prayer to Remember that the Words I Use Matter
Father, forgive me! I can be so quick to think of something negative to say. I can be quick to point out the flaws in others while excusing or ignoring my own. I give in when the enemy tempts me with pride prompting me to judge others who are dearly loved and precious to You . . . just like me. I am so sorry.
I want to trust and obey Your will. I want to love like Jesus. I want to think about things that are true, right, and honorable. I want to speak words that are pure, lovely, and admirable. Please help me speak the truth with gentleness and respect. Help me remember that my words matter. Help me follow Your Spirit’s prompting and choose words that build up whether in person or online, whether it’s someone I know or someone I don’t, whether I think they deserve it or not.
I give myself to You, Lord. Thank you for loving and forgiving me. Please help me love and forgive as I have been loved and forgiven. Amen.
I remember sitting in the dorm room many evenings with some friends in college. One night, I realized that whenever someone left the room, one of the girls would say something snarky and everyone would laugh. One night as I left the room, I heard an outburst of laughter and quickly knew it was laughter at something that had been said about me.
I stopped participating in those evening gatherings . . . but I now wish that I’d had the courage to say something positive to the others instead. I wish I’d been the one to build up rather than going along with the tearing down. I wish I had loved more like Jesus.
You and I can make a difference. We don’t have to be silent. We shouldn’t be silent. We need to love like Jesus with words that are uplifting and encouraging . . . words that speak the truth.
Chapter four of James ends with these words:
Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.James 4:17
Praise God for His love and forgiveness. I know I need it. You too?
Love matters. Forgiveness matter.
And yes, words matter.
On today’s note write:
May I remember today that my words matter . . . all of them!
May God bless you today and you use your words to build up and not to tear down.
Click here to read the rest of James 4.
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Our words do matter, especially in these days of social media, when one can be tempted to engage in one up man ship instead of offering encouragement and understanding. Running into so many negative people on Facebook, even in so-called Christian chat rooms, is the big reason I left the site.
May God keep you strong and firm, Deb, as you navigate through it all.
Thank you, Martha! Praying you have a wonderful day!
Hi Deb, another great blog today! I love the book of James, the “Proverbs” of the New Testament as I have heard it called. The entire book is a wonderful reminder for Christian living and hits us all square between the eyes, especially 4:17, as you pointed out in the end. Sins of omission are just as dangerous, and sometimes more so, than sins of commission.
Thanks again for your dedication to this blog!
Hi Ken, I like that . . . the “Proverbs” of the New Testament. It is so full of powerful advice for wise living. And yes, we often forget that not doing God’s will is also a sin. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation. God bless you!
Well said Deb. I appreciate today’s post and the gentle reminder to reflect on God’s word at all times…thanks for another uplifting word. I’m so grateful I got off of social media years ago and never looked back…I knew in the end when I started to judge those in my own circle it was time to quit as it was a negative reflection as a Christian woman to engage in such quarrels and judgments. I’m a better, stronger, wiser, woman in faith with continued uphill battles navigating this turbulent sea. Always happy to be a part of your blog and these gentle reminders for myself.
Thank you, Lily! The world of social media has given us all interesting challenges to learn to speak the truth with kindness and respect from a distance. I think people feel safe behind their screens. Praying we always remember that as followers of Jesus we represent Him in every conversation. Thanks for visiting and for your kindness. God bless you!