Did you know that you carry a lethal weapon with you all the time? I’m not talking about “packing heat.” I’m talking about the potentially deadly weapon that is your tongue.
“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21) Whether or not you believe The Bible, you probably agree with those words.
Who doesn’t remember a cruel name they were called in childhood? (“Tubs” was the one I hated most) Or repeatedly play back condemning words fired by a trusted friend or family member?
Yes, words can encourage and affirm.
Words can also devastate and destroy.
And it’s so much easier to play “the victim,” and remember the hurtful words that were hurled at us than to think about the damage we might have inflicted on another with our words.
While we can’t do anything about the past, we can do something about today and tomorrow.
We can be mindful of our words.
We can be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19)
We can choose to sincerely affirm and not to flatter.
We can be intentional about speaking life into the people around us.
We can ask for forgiveness when hurtful words have come from our mouths.
We can choose to forgive others who have wounded us with their words.
We can strike “you always” and “you never” from our vocabulary.
We can bite our tongue when we are about to criticize.
We can stop and think: “how would I feel if this were said to me?” before unloading on someone.
We can treat everyone we encounter with kindness and respect.
We can set an example to our friends and family by what we do…and don’t…say.
We can reprogram our minds with the truth of who God says we are and hit the mental “delete” key on hurtful, condemning words others have spoken.
We can let The Great Recycler create beauty from ashes. Even if we have been verbally abused, we can allow God to use that pain to create something beautiful in our lives. God wastes nothing if we’re willing.
Is this easy? Not at all. Is it important? Absolutely. Just imagine being at the end of your life and reviewing a transcript of every word you have spoken. I know. Makes my stomach turn, too.
But today is a new day with an opportunity for a fresh start. Let’s control the lethal weapon that is our tongue and use it only for good. It’s a daily choice each of us can make.