Friday, August 26, 2011

Watch Your Mouth

"Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." - 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV)
These are some of Paul's final words to the people in Corinth. He is appealing to them to live according to the instructions he has been giving them in his past letters. That's what he means when he tells them (and us) to "aim for perfection". His letters were written to encourage us, to instruct us, to lift us up. And that is what God wants us to do for each other.

Ephesians 4:29 says this: "Do 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.". Or, as I often told my kids when they were teenagers, "Watch your mouth!!". That old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." isn't always true. Words can hurt. They can break up relationships, they can tear down trust, they can fracture a church, they can cause unhappiness - especially when they are said in anger and judgement. James 1:19 instructs us in this way: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.". In other words, think before we speak. Because, just as words can hurt, they can also heal. They can bring hope when  things seem hopeless, they can bring comfort, they can cause laughter, they can encourage, they can enlighten and, best of all, they can lead someone to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

I am setting the intention to ask God to help me to choose my words more carefully, to stop and think before I speak, especially when I'm angry. I want my words to lift others up, not tear them down, to be pleasing to God and encouraging to those I'm speaking to. May we all be more aware of what comes out of our mouths.

"Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something." (Plato)
Dear Lord, give me wisdom when I speak. Help me to choose carefully the words that come out of my mouth. I desire to be encouraging and lift others up, as You lift me up. May I glorify You with my words. In Jesus' name, Amen.

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