Updated: Jan 29
By: Lizzie Williams
“Your praise will ever be on my lips” What a great worship song! And, it’s taken straight from scripture, (Psalm 34:1) which if you remember the God’s truth devo, you know that I think very highly of proclaiming scripture. However, (and here’s the part that hurts me to write because I cringe with conviction) how true is that statement? Is praise for the Lord always on your lips? I felt God calling me to write this and my first thought was “yikes” because I know that I cannot answer yes to that statement. In fact, over this past summer this was something I really had to work on because I would just speak before thinking, and well, that can get you in a lot of trouble (and it did).
First off, we need to establish why this is important. Well, for starters, the words you say don’t only affect you, but they affect those around you. As Christians, we are called to love people and our words should reflect that (Matthew 22:39). In line with this same thinking, we are called to be a witness and to always be ready to share the good news that is Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15). It’s hard to be a witness to someone if the things you are saying push them away or don’t reflect Christ. Lastly, God tells us that our tongue and what it says has great power! In fact, he says that the words we speak are like the spark that ignites a fire or like the bit in a horse's’ mouth that controls where it goes (James 3:1-12). God goes even one step further, saying that “the tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). That’s powerful, my dudes!! So if we have that much power, we should be super careful with how we use it. Imagine if Thor just threw his hammer around and how much damage that would create. In the same way, if we just speak without thinking, we can cause a lot of damage.
I get that maybe this isn’t something you really think about. Maybe you’re not even sure what qualifies as “bad.” So, ask yourselves this: is what I am about to say holy, and is it going to build others up? If the answer is no, it’s probably better to not say it. Because God commands us to “... not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). But that still doesn’t really answer what unwholesome talk is. So the way I see it is this: if you cannot say it in a way that glorifies God, it is probably unwholesome. Can you glorify God while cursing? Can you glorify God while gossiping? (That one is obviously no as you’re talking poorly of God’s creations and because it literally says not to in the Bible). Can you glorify God while using his name in vain? Let’s address some of the less obvious ones: lying (Psalm 34:13), talking dirty to your significant other who isn’t a spouse or making dirty jokes (Ephesians 5:3-5), complaining (Philippians 2:14), and participating in dumb arguments (James 1:19-20).
So maybe you’re like me and you realize, uh oh, I’m really bad at this whole talking thing. It’s okay; we can fix it! As humans, we can’t overcome this, but with the power of God we can. First off, we need to slow down and think before we speak. This includes slowing down in times of anger as well. I know it’s so easy to get heated and just spit out whatever you’re feeling, but I suggest cooling down before you speak. Maybe you aren’t angry and it’s just a habit. Then, as you realize yourself slipping up, be cognizant and try to stop yourself beforehand. If you do speak in a way you shouldn’t, pray for forgiveness and strength and be patient with yourself. But the most important way to fix what we say is to first fix what we think. The Bible says that “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” and we are commanded to set our minds on things above (Luke 6:45, Colossians 3:2). If we have a change in the way we think, the things we say will follow.
I know this message can be super discouraging, so I want to stop and recognize that 1) you’re forgiven and 2) this doesn’t mean we can’t speak ever again, it just means we need to change the subject! In the same way that our tongues can bring destruction, they can also bring life and encouragement! So now the question is: what should we talk about? We should praise God (119:171-172), speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), speak joy (Proverbs 12:14), speak peacefully while considering others (Titus 3:2), and more! We are to have wisdom and love flowing from our lips. This may sound difficult, but the more you spend time with God and surround yourself with people who do the same, the easier it will become. Additionally, I recommend bringing this up to your accountability group or close group of friends so that they can keep you accountable if you begin to speak in ways that you should not.
Above all, know that when our words fail, God’s never does. We can have hope even when the world around us seems to be screaming negativity into our life. All we need to do is stop and listen to the whispers of God. He loves you and your sisters love you. Let’s show that love this week with our words!
Motivational Jesus Jams of the week: Speak life by TobyMac and Words by Hawk Nelson