A long time ago, in a former life (before the second child was born!), the dear husband and I went on a couples’ retreat. In their efforts to show us how we truly treat our spouse, the pastors had a clever idea. We were each given a small styrofoam cup and told that was our spouse. We could decorate it, fill it, whatever….but we had to take it everywhere we went and take good care of it. So, of course, I found flowers to put in my cup! (not an easy task in the NC mountains in February). Folks were forgetting their cups, breaking them….I think I even saw a couple of people using their cups as cups! The lesson was good. Often, we just don’t take good care of our spouses.
For me, though, the lesson was completely different. One friend left his “wife” on the floor. I jumped up to do something and, in my exuberance, stepped on the cup. Yep, I crushed a dear friend….or at least the cup version of her! I was so very sad. The lesson for them was that he didn’t pay her any attention, blah, blah, blah. The lesson for me was this…I can be very clumsy. And, no, I’m not talking physical clumsiness. Mostly, mine is verbal. I say things I shouldn’t…or at the very least, I should say them differently. I like to say that the screen that’s supposed to keep you from saying everything you think is broken in my brain…it only works half the time. But, that incident spoke to me clearly about how hurtful my words and attitudes can be.
The Bible says “Careless words stab like a sword, but the words of wise people bring healing.” (Proverbs 12:18, GOD’S WORD Translation). Thoughtless words. A joke taken too far. A sarcastic comment when compassion is called for. None of these are deliberately hurtful, but that doesn’t take the sting away when they wound a loved one. Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (NASB) The book of James has a lot to say about the tongue (you should read it!). Try this one….”So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!” (James 3:5 NASB)
James 1:26 says “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” (NASB) What these verses say to me is this: Our words matter. What we say can build up or tear down, harm or heal, edify or crucify. And, we have a choice. If God says we can bridle our tongue, then surely it is possible. But, as with everything else, it’s impossible without His power living within us.
Tonight, I leave you with this thought…Are you using your words wisely? Are you using them for life or death? Think carefully, the answer matters.
Be blessed and tell someone you love them!
PS to all those cups I’ve crushed….I’m sorry!