a friend of mine was working at a construction site as a brick mason. on this particular day…he was working with a foul-mouthed guy that lived a very hard life. it was quite normal for this guy to get off work and begin drinking, take drugs, and stay out all night…only to come into work the next day with little or no sleep.
my friend is not much of a talker…in fact he is quiet a lot of the time. he certainly wouldn’t be the kind of person that would go around preaching to people and drawing attention to himself. but one particular day…the foul-mouthed guy looked at my friend and asked, “why are you different than everyone else who works around here?” my friend responded by telling the guy about how his faith in Jesus transformed his life and changed how he acts and treats people.
it wasn’t too long after that that my friend took a new job with another company. time passed…days and weeks…months and years…with my friend never thinking twice about his conversation with the foul-mouthed guy. but as circumstances changed…my friend went back to his previous employer and as it ended up…on a job site working right next to a guy that he had not spoken with in over two years.
the guy…no longer foul-mouthed…came up to my friend and said, “after you told me about your faith in Jesus…i quit drinking…i got off the drugs…i gave my life to Christ and now i am a different man…all because of the words you shared with me!”
i am not sure that many of us take the time to consider the profound power of our words. we direct them in ways that can encourage, heal, and bless or that can crush, kill, and destroy. in the same way that the rudder can direct the largest ship or that the smallest spark can set a forest ablaze…so is the way of the tongue and the power of our words. a single word has the power to change the entire trajectory of ones life.
i hope you know that when i speak or write about the perfect ways of Jesus and our aspirations to follow that way…i do not consider myself as one who has perfected (or has even come close) to such a life. in so many ways… while i am becoming wiser…i am still a fool…especially with my words.
use this as an example. when i get close to a person…it is not uncommon for me to give that person a hard time. this has always been my way of showing the person that i like him/her. over the last year…without me knowing it…my words were absolutely killing a friend of mine. while we can have the very best intentions…we never know how a person will be affected by our careless words.
that may be why we will give account for every idle word that we speak into existence…because our idle words can do more to wreck and destroy than to heal and restore. with our idle words…we can very well be scattering what others are trying to gather…which is completely counter-productive to Kingdom work. this line of thinking resonates perfectly with the ancient wisdom in Scripture, “if anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” our careless words have the power to undo any good work we may have done or any good words we may have spoken or any faith we may have shared…to the extent that others view worthless what we proclaim as Life giving.
let us be quick to listen and slow to speak. let our words be graced by the Spirit of God…and be words of truth, life, peace, blessing, and healing. let us sow seeds with our words and trust that God will provide the water and light that will make them sprout and grow…blossoming and producing an abundance of fruit.