There’s a verse in the Bible that scares me.
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak (Matthew 12:36 ESV).
This verse comes to mind when suddenly words come out of my mouth that I wish I could take back. They are not words that build up, but ones that tear down.
They gush forth when I’m angry, bitter, or disappointed. Usually, they’re flung out when I am insisting on my own way–when I’m focused on me, me, me and see myself as the center of the universe.
The truth I receive from this verse is that our words matter. I’m realizing the ability to control the what comes out of my mouth is a sign of Christian maturity. When I look back to days as a baby Christian, I lost control of my words often. Early on in our marriage, I remember shouting at my husband and feeling I had absolutely no control of what was coming out.
In the middle of one of my tirades, this came to mind. “If you will put the Holy Spirit between your thoughts and your words, He will help you control them.”
That made sense.
I remembered Galatians 5:22-23 where it states:
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;…ESV
Yes, Lord, I want to do that, I said. I want the Spirit to be in control of my words.
Before that I had made excuses for losing control like, “If you hadn’t said that, then I wouldn’t have had to answer you with what I said.” God convicted me that what others say to me can be no excuse for the words I use. Yes, unkind words from others can make it harder, but when I return loving words for mean ones, people will notice and be drawn to the Lord.
returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…1 Peter 3:9 AMP
Since the day the Lord spoke to me about the Holy Spirit being there to help me control my words, I’ve been on a journey of allowing God to teach me how to tame my tongue. My husband will tell you I still slip at times. But I’m determined to continue to watch my words.
Growing up, it was words that hurt me so much and practically destroyed my self-esteem. Destruction was the enemy’s desire. But God had other plans.
First He healed me with His words, and then He called me to be a writer and speaker where I can use words to build others up—especially those who have been hurt by words. What a joy and privilege.
How about you? Will you determine to let go of letting empty, careless words fly and instead allow Jesus-inspired words to flow through you to others? Your words can change someone’s world.