“People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our LORD and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of GOD. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!” – James 3:7-10 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.7-10.NLT)
I can attest to the pain words can cause. There have been times when a physical slap would have been preferable to the deep wounds caused by someone’s words. Both hurt, but my body heals more easily than my heart. We use words to lift up, and we use words to tear down. When one of my bosses would say “well done,” hearing the praise always stimulated my productivity. On the other hand, when all I heard was criticism, my productivity would suffer even more. Even a “hello” or “good morning” goes a long way in cultivating a positive attitude, which in turn goes to better performance. It’s not just for bosses, either. Does your day go a little better whenever you are greeted with a smile or a kind word? What about your spouse, your friends, your children? Can you see the difference in them when they hear good words, positive words, over negative?
“But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying.” – James 3:14 (http://bible.com/116/jas.3.14.NLT)
Before you jump up and say you aren’t jealous, and you aren’t selfish…. Attitude check! Personally, I work on not being jealous and selfish, and at times, it really is work. It was pointed out to me a couple of days ago that I am selfish. I don’t like it, but it is a correct assessment. I am selfish, and that is difficult to admit. I can certainly make excuses. I’d say I’ve worked hard to get what I have. The reality, the TRUTH, is that what I have isn’t mine. It ALL belongs the God, and I should be more willing to share and to give Him credit instead of me. Oh, I’m grateful that God has seen fit to bless me so abundantly, and I know I am exceptionally blessed with family and friends and partner who love me despite my flaws.
Our tongues are worse than a sword at times. We can tear someone so far down that they may take years to recover. Words hurt, but words can also heal. Consider these words from Paul:
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, …. in defending and confirming the Truth of the Good News.” – Philippians 1:3-4,7 (http://bible.com/116/php.1.3-7.NLT)
Give thanks for those around you, whether they lift you up or try to tear you down with their words. Return their words with love and joy, and lift them up in with good words.