“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Proverbs 18:21 (nkjv)
Years ago I had a friend whom I loved. We spent a lot of time together doing the things that friends do. We attended the same church, we talked on the phone, we hung out together, we even started a ministry together. She was, for all intents and purposes, my best friend.
Then one day I made a mistake involving our ministry. It wasn’t out of spite, it wasn’t on purpose, I did something out of ignorance that, at the time, seemed like a huge thing, but in the end, it was completely fixable. When she confronted me I admitted to my mistake, and I thought that would be it, but it wasn’t. She came unglued.
For the next 20 to 30 minutes or so she subjected me to the most horrible rant I have ever heard. She called me stupid and irresponsible. She belittled my intelligence, she called me an idiot and a host of other names. She humiliated me in front of the kids who were members of our ministry. She refused my offer to fix it, she ignored my apology, and by the end of it I was reduced to tears.
Even though I’ve long ago forgiven her, our friendship never recovered, and even today I mourn its loss.
Words have power, they have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences in those we speak to. Words spoken in the moment, out of anger, can deeply hurt the people we love the most. In fact, words can destroy friendships, end marriages, start wars.
But words also have the power to bring healing, to bless someone, to lift someone’s spirit who’s been having a horrible day. And that’s why we have to think before we speak. It takes a conscious effort, a decision on our part to wait until our anger passes before we speak.
With our words we can either build someone up, or tear someone down. Words have power and we are the ones who get to choose how to use them.