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Wholesome Words

August 31st, 2012

“What you say can preserve life or destroy it.” Proverbs 18:21 TEV

A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary.

My thoughts and comments today are about “wholesome words.”

My fourth grade teacher put a fascinating book into my hands that would shape and equip my adult life, though its significance was unbeknownst to me at the time. That book was about etymology, “the study of the sources and development of words,” that cultivated my appreciation for language. As is often said, “Words mean something.” That’s true all the time, not just when you intend for your words to mean something. Words carry a weightiness you can easily fail to realize even at the time you are speaking them. In conversations, you leave blessing or turmoil. Your words can validate or invalidate a person to whom or about whom you speak. I want my words to lift lives, not diminish them.

Know this about words; words inspire or dishearten; they induce healing or inflict trauma. Hearts have been wooed and won by tender, loving words, as well as mortally wounded by angry, hurtful words. With words, endearing friendships or enduring enemies are formed. Solomon wisely observed, “What you say can preserve life or destroy it; so you must accept the consequence of your words” Proverbs 18:21 TEV. In perilous times, national leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill have, with their words, rallied nations to great courage and sacrifice, while Adolph Hitler’s words spawned unparalleled hatred and evil in the soul of a generation of Nazi Germany, bringing devastating destruction across a continent. See Proverbs 12:18 NKJV.

Consider with me the spiritual etymology of your words, their “source and development.” Have you ever thought to yourself, “Where did that come from?” Your words are consequential and reflect their source. See Matthew 12:36-37 NKJV. A wise person weighs their words carefully, or better yet, prayerfully. Before speaking, you should weigh your words because others will, and God does. Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things . .” Read Matthew 12:34-35 NKJV. A cleansed heart is the source of a wholesome vocabulary. Monitoring what comes out of your mouth is less difficult when you guard what is in your heart.

A friend recently commented about another that, “They had lost their filter.” They were describing a person who frequently indulged themselves in saying what they thought, without regard to their words’ propriety, origin, or effect. Speaking your own mind isn’t always best if you want to have friends, or be one. Filters are important. “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 NLT. The words you speak are too relationally important and eternally consequential to be handled casually, without careful examination and prayerful forethought.

The Bible teaches, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths . . that it may benefit those who listen.” Read Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV. Their effect on others is the standard by which words are judged. Do your words pass that Bible test? “Do not be rash with your mouth . . therefore let your words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 NKJV. You will experience a lot less regret.

My prayer for you today is that your communication is always honoring and edifying.

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