Saturday, June 22, 2013

The power of our words

Words.  Words are such strong tools we use to articulate our thoughts and ideas.  And yet, some take little thought into just how meaningful words are. 

“Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
-1 Peter 3:4

This post is directed towards young ladies, but all can glean from the wisdom found in Proverbs and other books of the Bible that express how we are to speak in a God-honoring way.  I have included many verses and a few quotes that talk about selfless, thoughtful speech and have been truly convicted of the words that I choose.  Lately, as I was going through Proverbs, the many verses about the wise and the fool and the way they converse caught my attention. 

“The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.”
-Proverbs 10:8

“She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”
-Proverbs 31:26

Many of us hear the verses that talk about a gentle and quiet spirit, and being meek and mild, etc. etc., but few take them to heart.  Some say “well, that’s just not my personality”.  I am of the school of thought that all (included me!) could improve the way we articulate our thoughts, to become more selfless and Christ-honoring.  But, as I am just a girl who is learning all this afresh, I can only point you to Scripture and older, Godly examples for the point I’m making.

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.”
-Colossians 4:6

“On the lips of him who has understanding, wisdom is found, but a rod is for the back of him who lacks sense.”
-Proverbs 10:13

The way we speak not only attracts us to a certain group of people, but it gives people an idea on how we want to be treated.  If we speak in a gracious, interesting and thoughtful manner, we will find ourselves in conversations that are more profitable than an average, shallow discussions.  The louder, funnier and more shallow way of speaking will result in a crowd that will eventually become obnoxious and silly and may become irritating to the other people conversing around you.

“Once upon a time, nearly every young woman was trained in the art of gracious living.  She knew how to exemplify perfect etiquette in every situation…she knew how to speak eloquently in conversation…she knew how to sit up straight and listen intently when someone spoke to her…”
-Leslie Ludy, from “The Lost Art of True Beauty”

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
-Proverbs 10:19

Something that I recognized in many conversations I have observed (and, I admit, participated in) have included lengthily comments about others.  I believe that we have become deaf to the words of criticism and unkind joking that so often fills conversations.  It could be “oh, we passed this homeless person yesterday, and he looked, you know, a little ‘off’ if you know what I mean.” (accompanied by a crazed look, perhaps), or a comment like “so-and-so can just be so annoying, I can’t stand him/her…” etc.  Whether we realize it or not, it’s wrong to be so needlessly negative or amused about certain qualities in others.

“Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”
-Proverbs 11:12

“Do not allow yourself in the habit of joking with your companions.  This tends to cultivate severe sarcasm, which is a bad habit of the tongue.  And, if you indulge in it, your strokes will be too keen for your companions to bear; and you will lose their friendship.”
-Harvey Newcomb, from “How to Be a Lady”, written in 1846

Encouragement is very important; reminding others of their worth and purpose in life can be the most uplifting and honoring words that can be said.  It boosts the spirit of those struggling, and is also beneficial in building other’s trust.  But the opposite—that is, rash, harsh or rude words do just the opposite.  They tear down, destroy and discourage those to whom you are speaking.  Even those who appear strong find reckless words hurtful.  We must try to be gracious and kind to all we speak to, and whom we speak about.

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
-Proverbs 12:18

“Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.”
-Proverbs 12:25

Having a fun, outgoing personality is great, but if it’s hard to settle down and have a conversation based on something other than humor or shallow talk, it can be a problem.  Leslie Ludy expresses this well in her book “The Lost Art of True Beauty”:

 “I believe it is possible to have a friendly, outgoing personality and still honor God with a gentle, quiet, selfless spirit.  But I’ve seen many Christ-professing young women who go beyond merely being friendly and bubbly to becoming center stage in every social situation.  They are skilled at making sure all eyes are upon them.  And they overpower anyone who has a more quiet personality, often causing others to be overlooked or ignored.  They assume ‘This is just the way I am; it’s the way God made me.  I can’t help my personality.’  But their flesh has taken control.  It’s not just their personality; it’s their personality being controlled by sin.”
-Leslie Ludy, from “The Lost Art of True Beauty”

 “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
-Proverbs 15:4

Beautiful speech is pleasing to the ear and enjoyed by all.  But it doesn’t mean we have to go overboard with old-fashioned phrases or words with 7-plus syllables!  Tactful dialogue can be attained with self-control and practice.

“It’s not necessary to sound like a British aristocrat or a flowery, old-fashioned poet to excel at the art of elegant speech.”
-Leslie Ludy

“Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
-Proverbs 16:24

Sarcastic and jokey language is a sorry affair to those who are the victim.  Even if the target is not present, imagine if they were.  How would they feel if they knew they were being battered in this manner?  Even under a playful spirit, the root of the words is unkindness and insensitivity.

“Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker; he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.”
-Proverbs 17:5

“A talkative girl will tell all she knows, and all she can remember that she has ever heard anybody say, to every one she meets.  She will take up the time, and occupy the attention of others, in relating long, humdrum stories about matters and things which nobody care to hear.  You wait with impatience to hear the end of the story, that you may have a little quiet; but her tongue never stops, but, like the clapper of a mill, keeps up its incessant clack.  Such a habit is very disagreeable to others, and makes one appear to great disadvantage.”
-Harvey Newcomb, from “How to Be a Lady”, written in 1846

In conclusion, I cannot say how important it is to measure our words.  “The tongue can encourage a friend; the tongue can cause a friendship to end.”  I will continue to try my best to make sure that my speech is pleasing to the Lord, and I pray this message has touched your hearts as well.  God bless you!

“Do you see a man who is hasty in his words?  There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

-Proverbs 29:20


  1. Great post, Haley!! Absolutely awesome! ;) I love Leslie Ludy's quotes! When I read this, it made me examine myself... to see, hey, is there anything that I've done that would cause someone to feel hurt or an outcast or even further, bitter. It a tough issue! But it needs to be spoken about and encourage others by living that example out for others to see. And eventually, they'll see it someday! Again, you did a great post... very edifying! Keep it up! ;)

  2. Good job, Haley!!! You are right; the way we share our thoughts and the words we use are SO important. We live in a generation that has no standard for the way people speak. Dad often reminds us by asking the question, "what did God give you a mouth for?" The answer of course is to bring glory to Him. He did not give us a mouth to slander others, tell lies, gossip, use bad words or just mindlessly ramble.
    I really like the scriptures and quotes you used. I just finished reading through Provers myself. Also the 2 books you quoted are some of my favorites and I have read them both several times.