Ouch, that stung.
Over the years, people's words have wounded my soul more times than I care to count. That's largely my fault, as I tend to be overly-sensitive (and overly-proud!).
As I wiped my tears away after one such painful exchange, I picked up Nancy Leigh DeMoss' four-week devotional, The Power of Words, and found my perspective changing as I read this:
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips (Ps. 141:3).
Nancy pointed out,
Notice where the guard is posted. Not at the ear—to protect us from being hurt by words we might hear, or at the heart—to shield us from the wounds that are sometimes caused by what others do.
Rather, the Psalmist asked God to post a sentinel at his own mouth knowing that the greatest danger he faced was not what others might do to him, but rather, what he might say that would harm others. (p. 32)
Really? Suddenly I began to wonder, "How's my own speech?
- Do I:
- Subtly put people down when talking about them to others, or
- Build them up when talking about them to others?
- Am I:
- Quick to hurry people along so I can get back to my schedule and tasks?
- Fully engaged with people when they stop by to talk?
- Do I:
- Assume the best about people's motives?
- Assume the worst about people's motives?
- Do I regularly:
- Speak words that encourage those I live and work with?
- Speak words that discourage those I live and work with?
If you feel like a giant failure in this area, know this: Love, kindness, and self-control are all natural fruit of the Spirit. You and I don't have to labor to produce kindness on our own—it's a natural outflow of the Holy Spirit in our lives when we crucify the flesh and allow Christ to live through us.
By His power, we can actively put Philippians 4:8 into practice by thinking thoughts that are "true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy." The result will be words that give grace, strength, and encouragement to others (see Eph. 4:29 and 1 Peter 3:8–10).
Nancy recommends trying these phrases out on the people closest to us:
- I love you.
- I'm praying for you.
- I'm so proud of you.
- I'm sorry I treated you that way.
- Would you please forgive me?
- I appreciate you.
- You're such a blessing!
Who can you encourage with a kind word today?