I speak so many words in a day. Right now, in this particular season, I am speaking at quite a few live events, which excites me after all the shutdowns during COVID. However, I don’t think public speaking is more important than what I say in private. In fact, I believe it’s possible that God cares more about my words spoken in private.
Author R.T. Kendall wrote, “One of the greatest challenges we face is to master the tongue.” So let me ask you, how are you doing at mastering the words that come out of your mouth?
The wise writer of Proverbs wrote, “The tongue has the power of life and death” (Proverbs 18:21). The Apostle Paul wrote, “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths” (Ephesians 4:29). The word, “unwholesome” means decayed, rotten, and speaks of death. In other words, choose words of faith that give life. Unwholesome words can fall into the category of negativity, profanity, or words that tear others down. The Psalmist wrote that the person in whom God delights speaks no slander, nor does she cast slurs on others (Psalm 15:3). Jesus, Himself, said, “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words, you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). We will be held accountable for how we use our tongues. Scary thought!
How do we use our tongues to bring life to others, rather than despair? How do we use our tongues in such a way that we won’t be embarrassed at the end of our lives because of the words we’ve spoken? How do we set boundaries around this tiny but powerful instrument of our body so that we speak what encourages others? As I’ve been mulling these questions over in my mind, I came up with three ways you can use your tongue to encourage and strengthen others. You probably can think of other ways as well, but here are three practical ways to get you started:
3 Practical Ways to Use Your Tongue to Bring Life to Others
Speak words that lift others up. Jesus was so clear about not judging others (Matthew 7:1), yet so many of us seem to feel it’s our spiritual privilege to evaluate another’s life. We are called to be discerning about truth, but we are not to judge others. It seems to me that in the last few years we have a lot of people “scolding” others in the name of Christ. As I’ve been thinking about this, I realized I hate being scolded and I have never once changed because someone scolded me. What about you? Instead of scolding people, use your words to encourage or lift people up. Become a cheerleader of others’ wise choices. When you see a believer taking a risk of faith, or treating their children gently, or taking prayer seriously, cheer for them. Never miss an opportunity to affirm someone. Make it your goal to look for what others are doing right rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong. One practical way to do this is to choose one friend this week and write them an encouraging handwritten note or card. You’ll likely make their whole day!
Speak the truth in love. Make truth your goal, but with gentleness. There are many people who consider themselves “truth-tellers” but they speak the truth harshly. Instead, put on gentleness as the Apostle Paul instructed (Colossians 3:12). According to this verse in Colossians, we are to put on gentleness like clothing! This may take some a lifetime, however, I believe that even strong leaders can choose gentleness. A great way to do this is to ask others how they perceive you. It’s risky, but if you ask those closest to you how they experience you, you’ll likely get a more honest response. Ask the Holy Spirit to uproot harshness, particularly in your home, and instead to awaken gentleness in you. Now let me add, we’re all going to blow it at times. In those moments when you fail, become a fast confessor. Confess to the Lord. Apologize to whomever you were harsh with and then choose gentleness all over again. Keep inviting the Holy Spirit to uproot harshness. It’s a prayer He loves to answer.
Speak words of faith in prayer for others. Over the last month, God has been doing a deep work in my life in the realm of prayer. He’s been calling me to pray for others very specifically and to believe Him for great things in the lives of others. I’ve been inviting people into my home for prayer. I’ve been hearing the Holy Spirit call me to deeper levels of interceding. What a joyful journey it has become!
Deepen your prayer life on behalf of others. Look around you. Who needs prayer? Your spouse. Your kids. Your grandkids. Your co-workers. Your neighbors. Your friends. All of them. I don’t know of a single person who doesn’t need prayer. So become a prayer warrior. What an amazing way to use your tongue for good!
Friend, life is short. Make it your goal to use your tongue to bring life to others.
Please pray for me. I will be speaking over the next few weeks in Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona, and Florida. Pray that the Lord will fill my mouth with words of hope for many. God has been opening some new doors for me that I will be sharing over the next few months. He is oh so good!
May is Mental Health Awareness month! This is a great month to do a Bible study to calm your anxiety: