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Dive into the biblical perspective on speech in “CHRISTIANS—Do Your Words Stab or Heal?” This comprehensive analysis delves into Scriptures, drawing insights from Genesis to James, to explore the power and influence of words in our lives. Discover the dangers of careless speech and the beauty of grace-filled words, and learn practical guidelines for using words that reflect Christ’s love and truth. A must-read for every Christian seeking to use their words to build up and bless others.
Proverbs 12:18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts: The Hebrew expression here that is rendered there is (yesh) denotes the existence of someone, and in this case, one whose words are rash, which refers to words that are spoken too quickly without careful consideration of the possible consequences; impetuously. Such words can seem like (Heb. chereb madqarah) sword thrusts, which are quick jabs that are piercing motions, stabbing made with a sword, which cause serious wounds and injuries. While the language is figurative, the pain caused by rash words are very real.
but the tongue of the wise brings healing: Once more, as was true in verses 11, 13, 18, 20, 21, and in 31 in chapter 10, we have a part of the body (tongue, mouth, lips) being used figuratively with reference to the speech or words of good people. While the rash words of the thoughtless one can cause serious mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical pain, the well-chosen, well-thought-out words of the wise or wise words can heal or restore the damage caused by the thoughtless one. Healing is the mental, emotional, spiritual, and even physical pain that is restored to health or a sound state.
The thoughtless fool with his rash or reckless words hurts others, but the wise person or the person using wise words, which are carefully chosen and well thought out, can heal the person who is suffering from such thoughtless ones and their rash words. Even though we may see the one using rash words as thoughtless or a fool, it might not necessarily be intentional, for it is more of one who speaks too quickly without careful consideration of the other person and the possible consequences. While there may be no malice on the thoughtless one, the damage to the other is like a sword thrust, causing much emotional damage.
The wise person or a person with wise words may undo some of the damage afterward with his well-chosen words to bring healing to the wounds. This person, with his wise words, can do more than heal the damage done but can prepare the other with the wisdom of rational thinking. Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” In other words, nothing anyone says can cause us emotional damage, it is what we think about what they say that causes the damage. If we can rationally perceive the truth, dismissing the irrational words, there is no emotional damage being done.
CHRISTIANS—Do Your Words Stab or Heal? A Biblical Exploration of the Power of Speech
The Bible contains an extensive teaching on the power and influence of words. From the creation of the universe through God’s spoken word to the teachings of Christ and the apostles, the Scriptures continually highlight the importance of using words with wisdom and care. As Christians, our words can either stab like a sharp sword or heal like a soothing balm. This article will explore this profound theme, offering insights and guidance for using our speech in a way that honors God and blesses others.
I. The Biblical Perspective on Words
A. Creation and the Power of Words
The Bible opens with the story of creation, where God speaks the universe into existence (Genesis 1). The creative power of words sets a profound precedent for how we should view our speech.
B. The Wisdom Literature on Speech
Books such as Proverbs and James offer a wealth of insights into the use of words. Proverbs 12:18 says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (ESV).
C. Jesus’ Teachings on Words
Christ Himself emphasized the significance of words, stating that we will be judged for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36).
II. Words that Stab: The Dangers of Careless Speech
A. Gossip and Slander
The Bible warns against using words to gossip and slander others, which can cause division and pain (Proverbs 16:28).
B. Lies and Deception
Lying and deceptive speech are condemned in Scripture, reflecting a heart that is far from God (Proverbs 12:22).
C. Harsh and Critical Speech
Harsh and critical words can wound deeply and destroy relationships (Proverbs 15:1).
D. Thoughtless and Rash Speech
Speaking without thinking can lead to unnecessary conflict and harm (Proverbs 29:20).
III. Words that Heal: The Beauty of Grace-filled Speech
A. Words of Encouragement
Encouraging words have the power to lift others up and strengthen them in their walk with God (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
B. Words of Truth
Speaking the truth in love promotes growth and fosters trust in relationships (Ephesians 4:15).
C. Words of Forgiveness
Offering words of forgiveness reflects God’s grace and facilitates healing in broken relationships (Colossians 3:13).
D. Words of Wisdom
Wisely chosen words provide guidance and direction, helping others navigate life’s challenges (Proverbs 25:11).
IV. Practical Guidelines for Godly Speech
A. Reflect Before Speaking
Considering our words carefully before speaking can prevent unnecessary harm (James 1:19).
B. Focus on Building Up
Choosing words that build up rather than tear down fosters positive relationships (Ephesians 4:29).
C. Seek Wisdom from God
Praying for wisdom in our speech aligns our words with God’s heart and purposes (James 3:17).
D. Practice Regular Self-Examination
Examining our speech patterns and motivations helps us grow in using words that reflect Christ’s character (Psalm 139:23-24).
V. Conclusion: The Christian Call to Godly Speech
The Bible’s teachings on speech present a clear and compelling call for Christians to use words with care and wisdom. Our speech has the power to either stab like a sword or heal like a soothing ointment. As followers of Christ, we must strive to use our words in ways that reflect His love, grace, and truth.
By recognizing the dangers of careless speech and embracing the beauty of grace-filled words, we can become instruments of healing in a world marred by pain and division. May we commit to using our words to glorify God and bless others, embracing the high calling of godly speech that marks us as Christ’s disciples. May our words be a testimony to the transformative power of the Gospel, drawing others to the Savior who heals with His words of eternal life.