One time when I was around four or five, my mom invited my uncle to have dinner with us in our home. While we were eating, I noticed that my uncle only helped himself to one of the foods that my mother had prepared for the meal. Cheeky kid that I was, I told him "¡Tio, todo lo que esta en la mesa alimenta!" (i.e. "Everything on the table is good for you.") I've lost track of how many times that story has been retold. My grandfather repeats the phrase to me every time I see him in teasing. Those words have followed me ever since then.
One of the things that we often take for granted is the impact of our words and actions. I was just a little kid but look how these words have become associated with me. As older people, we often speak and act with a carefree demeanor, not thinking twice about whether what we say is the appropriate thing to say or do, or what the impact of our words and actions will be. A kind word to a stranger, a mean word to a family member–our words can have far reaching effects that can last a lifetime.
There are many proverbs that expound on the importance of being careful with speech. Some examples:
-"Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." – Mark Twain
-"Keep your words soft and tender because tomorrow you may have to eat them." ~Author Unknown
It is no secret that wise men have pondered about the impact of words. The Bible also warns about the impact of foolish speech. There are many gems from the actual book of Proverbs:
“Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.” (Proverbs 4:24, ESV).
“The wise of heart will receive commandments, but a babbling fool will come to ruin.” (Proverbs 10:8, ESV).
“The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; the heart of the wicked is of little worth. The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (Proverbs 10:18-21, ESV).
Where do our words come from? The Word of God shares some insight on this too:
"But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man." -Matthew 15:18.
The root of our words and actions are from the things that we keep in the heart. As a Christian, I know that if Jesus is the source of love, and if He abides in my heart, my words and actions will reflect that. I think that we should be very watchful of the things we do and say. As representatives of Jesus Christ, we can influence people to want to know the Lord more or know Him less.
When Jesus walked with sinners He taught them with love. He is our example. Think of the woman that was brought before him to be executed for prostitution. He didn't condemn her the same way those who brought her before Him did. Jesus forgave and told her to "go and sin no more." I bet those words made an impact on that woman. They were words of hope.
One verse I recently re-discovered was Micah 6:8. "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you. But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?" This is the direction from God for our actions and our speech. If we do justly, we will not want to sin against God and our fellow man.
I saw the following reflection while thinking of a topic to write. I think it gets it right. When in the process of speaking, use the THINK method. I think the application goes beyond what we say and directly into what we do.
So before we speak or act, let's THINK!
T, is it true?
H, is it helpful?
I, is it inspiring?
N, is it necessary?
K, is it kind?
This devotional is a guest post written by Netty Nina. Netty is an energy efficiency engineer saving the world one watt at a time. She recently came back from a 45-day media fast challenge undertaken by a group of young people from her church. She enjoys food of the vegetarian persuasion, Jane Austen, portrait photography, and anything artsy, among other things.