Life’s Greater Aim – Loving with your words
Words are powerful. We’ve all, no doubt, been wounded at some point by careless, unkind, or mean statements. Their effect on our lives, even years later, is undeniable. But words are wonderful when used in a proper way. They can encourage, edify and give confidence to the hearer. The right word spoken at the right time can actually be life-changing. But words also have the power to … In this message, we talk about loving people with honest words, with careful words, and with building words.
Something To Talk About:
- Love people with honest words: Galatia is the same region where Paul had been stoned and left for dead and afterward preached the Gospel to those same people who harmed him. And the church that grew there was doing well until people were convinced that faith in Jesus was not enough. When the Apostle Paul found out what was going on, he was pretty upset. The book of Galatians contains some sharp rebukes because Paul was willing to communicate the truth to these people out of love for them. You need to tell people the truth. Sad to say, few Christians today are willing to speak the truth in love if it means offending someone or, worse, getting themselves in trouble. They would rather take the path of least resistance. Telling people the truth won’t always affect them in a positive way. Our human connections — whether with family, friends, or coworkers — can become strengthened when we decide to be honest. It is possible to develop a habit of shooting straight while simultaneously expressing our love and care for others. Learning to express honesty can become one of the greatest areas of growth in our lives.
- Love people with careful words: “Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” (Proverbs 15:4) God wants you to know the magnitude of your words. We can’t un-crush or un-offend someone, so we should be careful how we speak to others. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you did and who you are, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” How we make people feel is a result of the words we say and how we say them. That’s why God wants you to be careful in releasing them. Our words are like water. Water is the stuff of life, but water can also be incredibly destructive. Similarly, our words are incredibly powerful to destroy or build-up, especially those we claim to love. When dealing with something that powerful, we would be wise to be careful. If you have noticed the way you speak is no longer blessing others, then it is a sign that you have not always been careful with your words.
- Love people with building words: God wants us to use our words to build others up. Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV) As Christians, our words should be of the life-giving variety. We should use our words to graciously build others up. The Bible makes very clear the value of having kind and thoughtful words. It does not take a lot of our time or energy to be courteous and constructive with our words, but it is well worthwhile. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6, NIV) Even with people we do not necessarily like, our words of kindness and love can make a difference. We won’t always know if our words were enough to soften someone’s heart, but we can trust in the promises of God’s word as we are showing love toward others. If the words we use don’t edify those around us, we need to change our wording, in order to benefit the one who hears. Ask 3 questions: First, does it build up? Second, does it fit the occasion? Third, does it minister grace to the person who hears it?
- Words are a continual choice with an inevitable consequence. Agree or disagree and why?
- How can we hold on to strongly felt convictions while still being authentically kind and gentle? Is it possible to keep these things together?
- Can you remember a time when you weren’t careful with your words? What could you have said differently in that situation?
- What are some examples of how the Lord directs us to use our words in Proverbs 18?
- Why do we need to be especially careful with our words in an “explosive atmosphere?”
- What Scripture verses can you memorize that will help us speak truth and encouragement in others’ lives?
- Do you need to change the words you use? Think we all could do a better job with the words we use. Your words have the power to build someone up or tear them down.
- Read Colossians 4:6. What does it mean for your conversation to be gracious and attractive?
- Which one of the following four filters would you put first? Why? (1) Is what I am going to say true? (2) Is what I am going to say helpful? (3) Is what I am going to say personal? (4) Is what I am going to say loving?
- Where do we go from here? What’s the next step God wants you to take? When will you take it?
Take One Thing Home with You
We need to control, to steward our words. Proverbs 10:19 says, “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” We must show restraint with our words. Are your words appropriate? Are your words timely? Do you speak the truth in love? How can we use words in a way that they build up instead of tearing others down? Think before you speak: Choosing your words wisely and learning when to keep your mouth shut can transform the impact of what you say.
Look for opportunities to use words to heal, encourage, and show kindness. Use this powerful tool carefully and thoughtfully, and others will see what is truly in our hearts.