My sister came to visit. She is one of the most caring, sweet, and encouraging people I know. She always seems to have uplifting things to say. As she left, I felt saddened. I already missed her, and how very uplifting she is. After spending time with her, I was encouraged to use my words carefully, knowing that things I say impact others. My words have the power to make someone feel small and worthless or happy and full of joy.
The Bible says a lot about our words. James 3:10 states, "Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be." Ephesians 4:29 exhorts, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which
is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the
hearers." According to that verse, I should only say those things that are edifying. That is a very lofty goal, and one that I will almost certainly be unable to achieve. In fact, James 3: 8 says I won't be able to. "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
At one point in my life, when I was less mature than I am now, I would have thought that if I couldn't succeed, why try at all. Graciously, God has granted me more wisdom over the years. If my stubborn perfectionism rises, I can rely on personal experience to squash the thought. See, at one point, my husband and I were living in a place that was infested with roaches when we moved in. I was determined to keep the house clean to make our place less desirable. One time, when I was ill, I asked him to clean the kitchen so bugs didn't get in. He didn't see why we should bother if they were there when we moved in.
I can't fault him too much for that sort of thinking. I find myself often thinking that if I cannot accomplish something perfectly, why bother with it at all. However, the line is drawn with bugs. Because I can finally see the wisdom in working on something, whether or not it can be perfectly executed, I now acknowledge the fact that I ought to endeavor to speak only words that edify. Much as I would never want my house to be constantly infested with roaches, I also don't want my words to be those which tear down, hurt, and discourage.
I am so blessed to have many friends who seem to speak words of edification with grace and ease. I will certainly need to work on it. The time to change is now. I would like to not hurt one more person, but only offer uplifting words to others. I say with the psalmist, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)