Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Overcoming the Curse of Words, Day 4

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Leslie Basham: In order to bless others, you have to actually open your mouth. Here’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Don’t just think it, about your children, about your mate. Say it! You need to say it. If there are things you appreciate, things you admire, and it crosses your mind—“I’m so glad my husband did . . . whatever.” Say it to him. Speak the words. And could I say, say it now. Don’t wait for the funeral.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgmueth for Thursday, October 27, 2016.

Nancy’s continuing in a series called "Overcoming the Curse of Words."

Nancy: As you think back on your growing up years, are there some things that you said to others that you wish, now, you could take back? It’s an amazing thing. The words come out so easily, but we can’t take them back, can we?

I got a note from a friend recently while we were talking about this blessing/cursing thing, and she remembered being a pre-teen, sitting in a church service with her family. She said, “I turned to my brother who was singing the hymns beside me and told him he was tone deaf and could not carry a tune in a bucket.”

I don’t get the impression from what she wrote that she was being malicious or that she intended to damage his life, but she just said it—whether it was casual, whether she meant it or not, whether she was just jesting. It was probably some off-the-cuff remark.

She said, “It took years for him to sing again, and how I wish had never spoken those words. About five years ago, he repeated that comment to me and told me how hard it had been for him to sing since then. My heart has continually been smitten as I’ve thought about how I’ve hindered him from praising God through song. I’ve sought forgiveness, but I wish it hadn’t been said.”

 “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (see Ps. 141:3) That needs to be our prayer. There are so different many ways that we curse others. There are ways that we become cursed by the words of others. We’ve been talking during this series about how to overcome the cursing of words . . . how to overcome the power of that curse in our lives.

We’ve been saying in the most recent sessions that one of the things we have to do is repent of the ways that we have spoken words that have cursed others. We talked about doing that with jesting, with teasing, with being too quick to speak, and let me just say again the importance—particularly as wives and moms—that you guard your tongue when it comes to criticism and evaluation of your mate and of your children.

We can do it to others as well. I think about times growing up. As one of seven children, there are things I said to my siblings that—I didn’t mean it to be a wound or knife—but that were just put-down comments about how they would play the piano or how they would do something.

I wasn’t trying to be vicious or ugly, but I look back now and realize that I didn’t bless with those words. I’d like to be able to go back and not be saying so many words—then or in my adult life—that are always evaluating people’s performance. That can be a curse of words.

I’ve been talking with a lot of people in recent weeks about how they’ve been blessed or cursed as they grew up. One man said he remembers being about ten years old (he was not a believer, not from a believing family). He was always trying to get validation (he didn’t know that word, then) from his dad. He wanted the affirmation of his dad. He wanted to do something that he knew would please his dad.

So he said, “I would build something or fix something. What I was really doing was trying to please him. I was trying to get recognition from him that something that I did was good, that it was valuable, that I was okay. My dad would never recognize or praise my efforts. Instead, his only response was critical evaluation of what I did . . . [then he finished that sentence by saying] over and over and over again.”

Now, here’s a man with grown children of his own. He’s thinking back about being that ten-year-old child. That man is a new believer himself, so now he’s having to evaluate the way he’s parented his own children. He still has a teenager in the home, and he’s wanting to do it differently. He’s realizing, "As a child, I was crying out, and my parents’ comments were always evaluating, always 'you could do better.'"

As parents, this is a fine line we’re talking about here. You want to encourage your children to do their best, and when they’re not doing as you know they could, part of parenting them is leading them to be all they can be. But there’s a fine line you can step over where your children feel that they’re always being evaluated or criticized, that they never do well enough, that they can never perform well enough.

I’ve watched some parents, who often come out of perfectionistic or performance-oriented backgrounds themselves, who tend to be more prone—I think—to do this with their own children. He could always do better. He could always do more. . .

In their heart they love their children. Their heart is not to curse their children. But ask yourself, are these words that make that child feel accepted? affirmed? Now, again, as a parent, you don’t want to affirm your children in sinning. But I’ll tell you what. Your correction of your children, when it’s needed, will probably be a whole lot more fruitful if it comes in a context of their having heard you express that you’re pleased with them—that their efforts, what they have done, are acceptable to you.

It’s amazing how many people carry over this performance mentality into their relationship with God—always just trying to perform. Living under the law, living under the bondage of trying to be good enough. It’s a form of cursing that you can give to your children, that constant criticism and evaluation.

Let me say this, too. We need to think about how we’ve cursed people in different relationships that we’ve had. We’ve talked some about your children; we’ve talked some about your mate. Let me just emphasize the danger of cursing your parents.

Even as adult children, the Scripture is so clear about this. “If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will be put out in utter darkness” (Pr. 20:20). Proverbs talks in chapter 30 about those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers. You say, “I didn’t curse my parents!” Are you sure?

In the way that you speak of them, the way you speak to them (or spoke to them), is there anything that you need to make right to make sure that you’ve spoken words that bless and honor? Again, if God is convicting your heart—as He has mine through this study—of words that have been spoken that need to be repented of, then repent.

There is grace for repenters. You overcome the power of cursing in your life—the power of cursing words that others have spoken to you—by repenting of cursing that you have spoken to others.

As we continue to think about some practical ways to overcome the curse of words in our lives, let me make this point—which is right out of Romans chapter 12—and that is, refuse to return cursing for cursing. We’ve been touching on this in different ways. I just want to make it its own point.

Refuse to return cursing for cursing. You will be cursed. You will have people say things to you that are demeaning and belittling and hurtful and harmful, some of them with the intent to harm, some of them you will have no clue how they’re coming across.

It may be something your husband says. You may have a great husband, or you may have a very spiritually needy husband, and sometimes he says things that he doesn’t even have any idea how it affected you, or maybe he intended to harm you with those words.

Maybe your children call home and they something so hurtful. I heard about a mom who was involved in a situation the other day. She had a grown child call home and say something that was very hurtful to that mother. I had an opportunity to talk to that grown child later, and I heard his side of the story. He didn’t see it that way at all. It wasn’t his intent to harm.

Now, God knows the heart, but that’s what he said. I said to him, “Can you see how your mother when hearing you say these words, it’s like a knife in her stomach. You’re not a mother,” I said to this young man. “You have to understand. This cursed her; this was a word that was very hurtful.” So ask God to give you understanding.

And then—you will be cursed—so refuse to return cursing for cursing. Do you know why that young man spoke that way to his mother (as I heard both sides of the story)? It’s because he felt in a conversation they had had earlier there had been some hurtful things said to him. He didn’t mean to be vindictive, but he was being reactionary. Refuse to return cursing for cursing.

Here’s the other side of that coin; instead, return blessing for cursing. Romans 12:14, “Bless [eulogize, speak well of] those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.” Let’s just get real practical here. We’re not living in the Roman empire as they were in Paul’s day. We don’t have slavery as they did in Paul’s day.

So who are those who persecute us today? It may be grown children who are not walking with the Lord. It may be your mate. It may your ex-mate. It may be your in-laws. We keep coming back to these basic relationships. I get letters and emails all the time from women who are being cursed.

They’re living in situations where things are being said to them that are very, very hurtful. What do they do? All I know to do is to take them back to the Word of God. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them” (Rom. 12:14). So ask yourself as you think about that person who’s hurt you so deeply, “Am I obeying the Word of God?”

We have all our excuses. “But you don’t know what he said!” I don’t have to know what he said. I know what God’s Word says. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I’m saying—if you’re a child of God—it’s possible. “Bless those who persecute you.”

Don’t speak evil of them. Don’t curse them. Don’t speak evil to your children about their dad (your ex-husband); don’t speak evil to a coworker about your boss. He may be a lousy boss, but don’t return cursing for cursing. Bless them instead. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Here’s the reason: you reap what you sow.

If you sow blessing, you will reap blessing. If you sow cursing—even if that’s what was sown into your life, you sow it back—that’s what you’re going to reap. You may reap cursing from that person that you’re cursing back, or you may end up reaping cursing from others, but you will reap what you sow.

So refuse to return cursing for cursing—no matter who the person is, no matter what they’ve done, no matter what they’ve said. Instead, ask God to show you how to return blessing—a positive, proactive, powerful blessing . . . to return blessing to the very ones who have cursed you.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth will be right back with part two of today’s message. It’s part of the series called "Overcoming the Curse of Words." I hope everyone hears every message in the series, because all of us have been affected by the words of others, and all of us need to be on guard against discouraging others with our words.

If you’ve missed any of this series, you can hear it at ReviveOurHearts.com, or order the series on CD. Order "Overcoming the Curse of Words" at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1–800–569–5959.

Here’s Nancy with the second half of today’s Revive Our Hearts.

Nancy: I was talking about this matter of blessing and cursing with a friend the other day, and he said, “I grew up in a home where I experienced a lot of the power of cursing, but it wasn’t that my dad [who he particularly felt this from] was brutal or verbally abusive. It’s more what he didn’t say." It was the absence of praise, the absence of blessing that communicated as a curse to this man as he was growing up in that home.

As we’ve been talking about ways to overcome the curse of words, overcome the power—break the power—of the curse of words that others have spoken into your life, we need to resolve to speak blessing to others and about others. There’s such power in this principle.

You say, “I thought this series was on how to overcome the curse of words that we’ve received.” It is, and if you want to be set free, if you want to break free from the curse of words that you’ve experienced in your childhood, in your marriage, in your adult life, here’s one of the keys: become a blesser. Resolve to speak blessing.

The more cursing you’ve heard or experienced from the lips of others over the years, the harder this may be for you. I had the blessing of growing up in a home where I did feel very affirmed. I can still remember my dad introducing me to someone when I was probably thirteen or fourteen years old. 

My dad was a very successful business man who had an insurance company. He said, “This is my daughter, Nancy. She could run my business.” Well, I could no more have run his business than I could be President of the United States. I mean, really, I do not have a business head. I know nothing about insurance. To this day it’s like a foreign language to me. 

He spoke blessing into my life. I think my dad really did think I could run his business. Love is blind. (laughter) He looked at his children through “blessing eyes.” He affirmed us in our individual strengths.

We’re all very different, and he was always working to shore up our weaknesses in ways that would bless us. That’s such a heritage. As a result of that, it’s probably been easier for me than it has for others that didn’t have that—particularly from a dad—to speak words of blessing.

I find that whether you’ve received words of blessing or not over your lifetime, it’s still something we have to work at, we have to be conscious of. We have to be proactive about it. We need to look for opportunities to speak blessing into the lives of other people.

Especially for those of you who are moms who have a lot of little children and a lot going on in your lives. It’s something you have to be more conscious of, because your day is filled—many days—with just surviving. You're getting those kids dressed and educated and to piano lessons, soccer games and getting them out the door and in the door and to sleep at night and meals fed. It’s easy, I’m sure, to just be consumed with functioning, to forget how important it is for you—as a way of life—to be speaking blessing into the lives of your children.

It’s easy right now as we’re sitting here thinking about it, but it’s when you’re in a hurry and there’s a lot going on and life is busy. One of the things to go . . . Even if you’ve resolved not to speak cursing words, it’s easy to overlook the importance of speaking blessing words proactively.

As we’ve said, that word bless in the New Testament is the word from which we get our word eulogy. It means to speak well of someone, to praise them. Don’t just think it about your children, about your mate—say it! You need to say it. If there are things that you appreciate, things you admire and it crosses your mind, “I’m so glad my husband did . . . whatever.” Say it to him. Speak the words.

And could I say. . . say it now. Don’t wait for the funeral. That’s where they give eulogies, isn’t it? I think it’s so nice that people give eulogies at funerals, but I think what’s really tragic is that so many of those eulogies given at funerals were never given when the person was alive.

In many cases, it’s not that the person was an awful person. They just didn’t say it. Ladies, you don’t know that you will see your husband the next time. I walked out the door the weekend of my twenty-first birthday. (I’d been with my family for the weekend.)

My dad put me on an airplane to go back to Virginia where I was living. When I landed in Virginia, I got the phone call that my dad had had a heart attack. He was with the Lord instantly. There was no more chance to say words of blessing. Now, I can still say words of blessing about him, and I do. But anything I was ever going to say—I had just turned twenty-one—that was my last chance to say it.

I’m so thankful that before we parted we did say we loved each other. But if I could go back, there are so many things that I appreciate about my dad, that I admire . . . that I did then. But there were a lot of things I didn’t say. I’m not overcome with regrets about that, but thinking about that does make me want to become more proactive with people who are still here, speaking words of blessing.

Then as you bless, ask God to show you how to give specific blessings that are personal and appropriate to that individual. There’s a fascinating passage in Genesis chapters 48 and 49. We won’t read the whole passage, but let me just give you an overview of it. 

The main subject at this point in the story is Jacob, one of the patriarchs. Remember how Jacob had wrestled early in his life to get a blessing? He was the second born. He was the one God said He was going to bless, but Jacob was a conniver, a schemer, a manipulator. He was always trying to get the blessing from his dad, to get the blessing from his brother, to get the blessing from God. 

He was just a restless man, always craving for a blessing. Well, finally, he had received the blessing—through a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, a lot of struggle, a lot of brokenness. Now he’s an old man—this is the end of his life—and he realizes he’s content with God’s blessing. He’s been filled, he’s satisfied, he’s been blessed by God.

Jacob says in Genesis 48:1–3 to his son Joseph, “God Almighty blessed me.” That’s quite a statement, coming from a man who spent so many years trying to get blessed, struggling to be blessed. But he’d come to rest in the blessing of God. Then as the story unfolds here in Genesis 48:15, Jacob blesses his son Joseph and Joseph’s sons, his two grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh.

Verse 15 says, “And he blessed Joseph . . ." Again, he’s able to bless because he’s received God’s blessing by faith. He’s satisfied with it, and now he something to give. He said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, [that God] . . . bless the boys” (vv. 15–16).

He’s transferring a blessing. He’s saying, “God has blessed my parents. God has blessed me, and now I’m giving a blessing to you, my son, and to your sons.” It’s a transgenerational blessing that God intended that parents should give to their children and their grandchildren.

Jacob said to Joseph, “and in [your children] let my name be carried on, and . . . and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” He speaks a blessing into the future of his grandsons. But he’s not done. Later, in the next chapter 49, Jacob’s on his deathbed.

He calls his twelve sons together, and he blesses each one of them individually. He says their name, and then he speaks words about their future. At the end of this whole chapter where he’s given these very specific blessings to his children, Genesis 49:28 says, “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.”

I never noticed that phrase before until I was studying this concept. I realized that Jacob had twelve very different sons. Some of whom had failed royally and were going to experience consequences. His firstborn, Reuben, had a huge moral failure and was not able to experience the blessing of the firstborn.

But even to that son Reuben, whose life was going to be limited because of his failures, Jacob found a way to speak words that blessed him, calling him “my firstborn, the son of my dignity.” There were words that he spoke that were appropriate to that son. He blessed each with a blessing suitable to him.

All your children are different. Your husband is different than anyone else’s husband. You say, “I knew that!” (laughter) Ask God to show you ways that are appropriate to bless your husband, your children, your grandchildren, your parents, in ways that are appropriate and specific and suitable to them.

As you do, exercise faith on their behalf. Envision what God could do through the lives of those children. Get a vision from the Lord as to how He may want to use your children. I’m not talking about what career they’ll have, but ask God to give you faith on behalf of your children for how God could use them. 

It's not that you’re going to control their lives. You want to bless them. You want to send them forth believing that there is a great future and a hope for them as they walk with God.

My dad did an incredible job of blessing his children in that future sense. He always gave to us. When he died the seven of us were ages eight to twenty-one. So he didn’t have us as adult children, but somehow he had left in our lives the mark that “God wants to use your life. God has a mission for you. God has a purpose for you. No one else can fulfill it.”

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth in a series called "Overcoming the Curse of Words." The Lord used her father to speak words of blessing to her. Now she’s speaking words of blessing to all of us who listen to Revive Our Hearts.

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Tomorrow we'll continue in the series "Overcoming the Curse of Words." You’ll be challenged to think about your family’s need for encouragement. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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