Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Power of Words, Day 8

Leslie Basham: Words can hurt deeply as this woman remembers.

Woman: When I think about the power of words, I think about a phrase that still I just well up with emotion as I remember all the times growing up that my father used the words, “You dummy.”

Leslie: Today we’ll hear about the freedom from pain that God can provide.

This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 101, for June 29, 2017.

Words are sticky, especially cruel words. The ideas behind them can stay with you long after the sound waves disappear. During Nancy’s current teaching series, you’ve been challenged to use your words wisely. Don’t say any harsh thing that will stick to those around you. Here she is wrapping up "The Power of Words."

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I have a little devotional book that I read sometimes. You may be familiar with it. It’s called Daily Light. Each day it has readings for the morning and readings for the evening that are just verses right out of the Scripture. No comment. Just verses right out of the Scripture.

I just have to share with you what this morning’s reading said in the Daily Light. As I read through these verses early this morning, I thought, though this doesn’t talk specifically about the tongue, this really gives us a guideline. These verses give us a guideline about how to respond to conviction of God’s Spirit about any area of our lives. So I want to apply it to what we’ve been experiencing as God’s conviction in relation to our words and our tongues.

The heading at the top is a verse from Lamentations 3, verse 40, that says, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.”  The searching, the introspection, is not meant to lead us to discouragement or defeat. It’s meant to lead us to repentance. That’s why conviction from the Holy Spirit is a good thing.

The goodness of God brings us to repentance, and it’s good that God would give us His Word. It’s good that God would give us these challenges and this conviction. If you don’t ever experience conviction when you read the Word of God, then you need to ask yourself, “Am I a child of God?” because if you are a believer, you will experience conviction when you hold up the Word of God to your life even as we’ve been experiencing in these sessions.

So Lamentations says, “Let us search out and examine our ways and turn back to the Lord.” The next verse in this reading comes from Psalm 26, verse 2, where the psalmist says, “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart.”

So the psalmist is opening himself up to God as we have been trying to do during these days and saying, “Lord, I want you to search my heart. I want you to examine me. I want you to give me a test.” We’ve been in the Proverbs, and Proverbs has been administering a test about our tongues. How many of you would say, “I feel like I’ve really failed this test as we’ve been in the Proverbs”? Almost every hand here and the ones who didn’t have their hands up didn’t understand the question. (Laughter)

We’ve been taking a test, and when you hold your life up to the Word of God, we’re all failures apart from the transforming, sanctifying work of God’s Spirit in our hearts. But the starting place for change is to let God search us. To search our own hearts and then to let God search us.

Then the passage goes on to say, this one out of Psalm 119, verse 59, “I thought about my ways.”  That’s a good thing to do when God speaks to us; to stop and think about our ways, to ponder what God’s saying. So many times we hear a message at church or read something in our quiet time, or we come to one of these sessions. We hear something on Christian radio, and we say, “Yes, that’s right.” But we just go on to the next thing, and we don’t stop to let the conviction settle in.

The psalmist says, “I thought about my ways.” Then what did he do? He repented. He says, “I turned my feet to Your testimonies” (Ps. 119:59). “I changed my course.” “I changed direction.” “I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments” (Ps. 119:60). There’s obedience.

So God’s been convicting us. We’ve been letting Him search our hearts. We want to have a repentant heart, which is to turn around, not to go on justifying the way we’ve been using our tongues. Now we want to take responsibility for the way we’re using our tongues. Now we need to obey and to trust God to give us the power of His Holy Spirit to obey in areas where we could never obey on our own.

This passage in the Daily Light inserts a verse that at first seems maybe a little out of place, but it’s not at all. It’s from 1 Corinthians 11, verse 28. It says, “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Once you examine yourself and you let God examine you and you see the corruption, the wickedness, the foolishness that is in your heart, how are you going to get free from that? That’s who I am. Therefore the guilt can just settle in and weigh down up on you and be oppressive.

Until you go to the cross. “Let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” What’s it saying? Take communion. Go to Christ. Flee to Christ for refuge, for grace, for forgiveness. That’s what the cross is about. It’s the body of Christ broken for us. It’s the blood of Christ shed for us on the cross. It is our only hope when God shows us the needs in our lives.

So the reading goes on to say, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confess it. Agree with God about what He’s shown you. It might help you to find someone else, maybe your husband or another believer, sister in Christ, that you can go to after this session and say, “Here’s what God has shown me about the needs in my life as it relates to my speech, my tongue.”

Confessing it first to God and then even horizontally being honest with each other about what God has shown us. It’s a step of humility. If we confess our sins to Him, we agree with God about what He’s shown us, He will forgive because of what Christ has done for us. He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This reading in the Daily Light1 picks up on that thought by turning us to the book of 1 John and then Hebrews. "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:1–2). Now, that’s a big word that most of us don’t use in everyday conversation, but it means simply that through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, He satisfied the wrath of God—the just wrath of God—against my sin.

He bore the penalty. He paid the price. He satisfied God’s wrath so now I no longer have to bear the wrath of God for my wicked, foolish heart and words. Now He’s in heaven being my advocate. He’s pleading for me. He’s interceding for me. He’s taking up my case with God.

Some of you are sitting here making resolutions and purposing that you’ll never yell at your husband again. You’ll never yell at your kids again. You’ll never speak a cross word again. I’m just telling you, you will. When you do, you need someone who’s going to plead your case before the Father. Who’s going to say, “Father, accept My righteousness.” That is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, and His righteousness can then cover us, cleanse us, and wash us.

So the writer to Hebrews says, “Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10:19). Can you imagine, by the way, after what we’ve seen about our hearts and our tongues that we could come boldly into the presence of a holy God? Is that awesome? After the conviction and the sense of guilt and failure and foolishness that weighs in upon us, and now we’re told that we should have boldness to enter the holiest place, the presence of God. How? By the blood of Jesus.

“By a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near” (Heb. 10:20–21). Who are we drawing near to? To the One we’ve offended with our tongues. He says, “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience [sprinkled with the blood of Christ] and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:21–22). The water of the Word. The water of the Spirit.

So I want to encourage you. There’s grace for sinners. There’s mercy for failures. There’s the blood of Christ for our evil, wicked, sinning hearts and tongues. Lay hold of it and give thanks for it.

Woman: First of all, I just want to say thank you to the Lord for just the conviction and the encouragement it is to be here today. The power of the tongue is something that He’s really been working with me on for the last several months. When I think about the power of words, I think about a phrase that still I just well up with emotion as I remember all the times growing up that my father used the words, “You dummy.”

As a child I was a voracious reader. I was constantly searching for knowledge. I was searching for information, searching for ways of not being a dummy. I find at times what happens with me is I share information thinking I’m sharing something of help or something that would be received well, and many times it may not be.

Just yesterday I had a situation where I was just trying to make a simple explanation of why I needed to get off the telephone, and I was reminded that I didn’t need to share all that information. I didn’t need to explain to someone everything that was going on so that they wouldn’t think that I was a dummy.

I’m still just have great pain because I haven’t resolved some of this hurt and issue from my father. Because of that, I have not honored my father. I need to go to him and ask him to forgive me.

Nancy: Let me respond for a moment to when you’re on the receiving end of the hurtful words. All of us have been. Some of you have very sensitive, tender hearts, and that’s a good thing. But the enemy can use that tenderness and that sensitivity and that wonderful memory that some of us have to also cause us to live in defeat. So what does the Scripture say about how we can respond when we’ve been the recipients of hurtful words?

A number of passages come to mind. First of all, we have to go back to the Word. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God” (John 1:1). Who was the Word? Jesus Christ is God’s Word, and the Word put on flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus Christ, who is the expression, the revelation of who God is, that’s the Word. He came to this earth, and I think in context of the passage in Psalm 107, verse 20, that says, “He sent His Word and healed them.”

Now, the ministry of Christ is multifaceted. Of course, His purpose for coming to earth was redemptive. It was to go to the cross and to suffer and die and bear the penalty for our sins. Part of what He bore there on the cross was all the hurtful, hateful, ugly hearts that produced hurtful, hateful, ugly words. Those we’ve spoken and those that have been spoken to us.

He paid the penalty, which is death. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. He took the death that is the fruit of our evil words and the fruit of the evil words that have been spoken to us. “By His wounds,” 1 Peter chapter 2, verse 24, says, “you have been healed.” There is healing available to us through the cross of Christ. That’s part of why God sent His Word to us so that His Word could heal us from all the damage that words have done to us and the damage that our words have done to others.

We’ve got to go back to the cross. That’s where the price was paid. That’s where the penalty was paid. That’s where that sin was dealt with.

Now, as we enter into the cross of Christ, there’s hope, there’s faith, but there is healing. There is release. There is freedom available that you don’t have to live as a dummy, a snake, some of the things that have been said, that have been heard, that now decades later are still haunting some of your hearts. You don’t have to live in that bondage. You can live in healing and in freedom because God sent His Word and healed us. It’s through the cross that there is healing and that freedom and that release.

Now, what do we do now that we’re in Christ? How can we become instruments of that healing in the lives of others becomes the issue. How can we appropriate that healing? How can we respond even now as believers to those hurtful words?

First Peter gives us some very practical, wise counsel about responding to insults, to attacks that are verbal attacks. First Peter chapter 3, verse 8: “Finally, all of you be of one mind.” Remember, we said we’re a body, those of us who are in Christ. That’s why it’s such a sin to speak hurtful, hateful, ugly, unkind, untrue, unnecessary words because when we do, we divide friendships. We divide relationships. We divide marriages by speaking words that bring death.

So Peter says the issue with the words doesn’t start with the words. It starts in the heart. Be of one mind. Be who you are in Christ, which is one mind, one body, one person in Christ. Have compassion for one another. Love as brothers. Be tenderhearted. Be courteous. That’s all a heart matter. As we deal with those heart issues, we’re going to find that what comes out of our mouths and the way we respond to the words of others, we will be helped. It starts in the heart.

Then he says, verse 9, and here’s where the words come in, having dealt with the heart issues, having compassion for one another, loving his brother, being tenderhearted, being courteous to one another, verse 9, “not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling.”

  • First principle, recognize your wound.
  • Second principle, let God’s love fill your heart so that you’re reacting and responding and speaking out of the love of Christ, with tenderheartedness even for those who have spoken evil, hateful things.
  • Then principle three, don’t return evil for evil. Make sure you don’t give back the reviling.

Peter knew what we all know. That’s what’s natural for us. When we’ve been wounded, our natural reaction is to retaliate or to defend ourselves; to give back in some way. We may not revile that person to their face, but we may revile them to someone else. That’s the natural response, and Peter says don’t do that. You’re one. Operate out of the heart God has put in you, which is heart of love, a heart of courtesy, a heart of tenderheartedness, a family love for each other. Don’t return evil for evil or reviling for reviling.

But he doesn’t stop there. This, I think, what he says next is one of the most liberating principles in all of God’s Word.

  • [Principle four] He says, on the contrary, don’t give evil for evil. Don’t retaliate. Don’t revile back, but instead, give blessing. Return blessing.

Who’s he talking about here? To the people who have done evil to you. The people who have reviled you. The people who have spoken evil to you. What do you give back? A blessing. Speak words of blessing. About them, to them, into their life.

Some of you in this setting have just taken an opportunity to bless those who have reviled you. As you do, you become an instrument of healing in their life, and you experience release yourself from the bondage of those wounds. Now, that doesn’t mean that you never remember it, that there’s not still pain associated with that, but there’s a freedom and there’s a release because you’ve given blessing.

He says, “knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9). You’ve been called to inherit a blessing and because you have a blessing, you can give a blessing to the one who has spoken evil to you. So he says, verse 10, “For He who would love life and see good days . . .”

If you want to experience the most out of life, if you want to experience the richest of God’s blessing in your life, if you want a full and meaningful life that’s not controlled by what others have said to you, “let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10).

Notice he started by talking about people who reviled you. Now, he’s saying if you want to have a blessed life—he’s not saying the key to a blessed life is to stay away from people who speak evil to you. He’s saying the key to a blessed life is watch your tongue, watch your words.

That reminds me of Proverbs 15, verse 23, which I think is a wonderful insight in God’s Word, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth.” See we tend to think that our joy is determined by what others say to us. So when someone says something hurtful to me, boy does that kill my joy real fast.

I find myself discouraged, despondent, frustrated, angry, wanting to retaliate in subtle ways perhaps. I say, “That person, the way that family member, the way that fellow worker, the letter I got from that person, the way that person spoke to me”—it can just take the wind out of your sails. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.

But Proverbs says a man has joy, not by what others say to him, but by how we answer and respond to those who speak to us. A word spoken in due season, how fitting it is. So the joy comes as we respond with a blessing. As we give back blessing in exchange for having received reviling.

Now, you think about that mate whose cutting words have wounded you. When you think about that child who is speaking evil against you right now, and it just like a knife, a sword in your heart. You think about those parents—your parents might not even be living any longer, but you’re still carrying the sword wound of words that were said to you as a child.

I’m not promising that God will put you in the place where you will forget it. I’m not sure—it may be the very memory of it that God will use to keep your heart tender. I am saying you don’t have to live under the bondage, that you can get your heart so full of the love of Christ if you’re a child of God, that you have the power within you by the power of His Holy Spirit not to return evil, not to return reviling, not to dishonor those who dishonored you, but instead to return blessing. Guard your tongue, refrain your tongue from evil, keep your lips from speaking deceit, and then you will have joy by the answer of your mouth.

As God sent His Word to heal your wounded heart, wounded by words that others perhaps have spoken to you, you will become—through the cross of Christ as it is applied to your heart—you become an instrument of grace and healing and a fountain of life to others. He sent His Word and healed them. What do you do once you’ve been healed? You take up that Word and you become an instrument of healing in the life of someone else.

Some of you have an opportunity now to pass on to your children and your grandchildren the kind of blessing and encouragement and hope and life that you didn’t receive from your parents. So let the reminder be a source of conviction.

I get around some people who are just so negative, so critical, and I find myself feeling pulled down, dragged down, discouraged, and reactionary at points. But then God says to me let that person and the way they affect you, let that be a mirror to see how your words can hurt and wound and affect others in ways you may not even realize, as they probably don’t realize the impact that their words are having. Instead let Me—God says to me—let Me fill your heart with the kind of love that speaks words of blessing and encouragement that becomes a means of healing to others.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, wrapping up a series called "The Power of Words." Our listeners have seen the potency of the words they use. And we’ve ended in hope—that God can heal us from any cruel words spoken by others. It’s been an important series, and if you missed any, I hope you’ll go back and listen at ReviveOurHearts.com, or order a copy on CD at the website.

I hope you’ll follow up on these important themes and get them deep into your life. One powerful way to do that is to sign up for the 30-Day Power of Words Challenge. Here’s how it works. Starting July 1, practice not using your words to criticize, lie, slander, or pull people down. On that day, we’ll help you by sending a daily reminder via email. That email will contain a short reflection on the weight of our words from author Mary Kassian or from our host, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

You’ll get thirty of these emails, one day at a time, and you know what? If you take this seriously, you could develop a new habit of using your words to build up others. You need to sign up for this challenge by June 30. You can do that and get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you’re trying to disciple other women, it won’t work if they don’t have a humble, teachable heart. But it also won’t work if you aren’t humble as well. Dr. Veronica Ellen will show you how to begin mentoring relationships with a humble heart. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you appreciate the power of your words. Its an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.

1 Daily Light on the Daily Path is a Christian daily devotional scripture reading published by Bagster & Sons about 1875. It has been reprinted continually since then. Nancy uses the one adapted by Ann Graham Lotz. 

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