“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day” ~ Author Unknown.
I love this little bit of poetry because it is so true. Concerning words, Pearl Strachan Hurd once said, “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.”
Certainly all of us can quickly recall something said that lifted our spirits, I know I can. Many times I found myself wading through a difficult situation or what appeared an insurmountable task when someone from out of the blue came along with a desperately needed shot of encouragement. Amazingly though, I must shamefully admit that with as memorable and appreciated those thoughtful expressions were, I have a difficult time putting a face with the inspiring voice I still hear in my head today; but those hurtful words, those searing lyrics that cut – well; I can take you to the place where they were said though miles away and decades have passed. Honestly, I still sometimes envision my hands around that person’s throat – their face is ever before me, clear as if it were today, and I wonder still, did they even notice the moisture building up in my eyes as their calloused words tore through my heart?
Yes, it seems my mind remains perpetually aware of those whose words have hurt me, much more so than the beautiful people who have been uplifting as they spoke concerning me. While it should be the other way around, the truth is the impact on the psyche by injurious words and deeds sticks with us far longer than the positive impact of a kindness.
I daily pray to remember that when there out there – there out there, words, that is. Once gone from my lips, forever gone they are, and regardless of how I might wish I could retrieve and stuff them back down my thoughtless throat, I cannot take a single one back. Jason Versey writes, ““Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.” This is a lie. What we say matters. The unkind things we communicate can soil the best of relationships; even with the deepest of regrets…what lingers is a stain of hurt that may fade but will never truly go away. The wounding words we say are like feathers released in a harsh wind, once said; we will never get them back.” Perhaps this was Solomon’s discovery prompting him to write the words of Proverbs 25:11 which read, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.”
Throughout the bible, we are taught to be watchful in the things we say; to pick and choose carefully before we speak. In truth, the things we say, the words we use are something like a spiritual system of checks and balances revealing the content of our heart letting us know who and where we are in our relationship with Jesus. As his followers, we would do well committing to memory Proverbs 15:23 which says, “Congenial conversation—what a pleasure! The right word at the right time—beautiful! (The Message Bible).
Perhaps an old story from the Cherokee nation would help us to get a grip on the best way to better manage our mouths – it goes like this.
“An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. ‘A fight is going on inside me,’ he said to the boy.
‘It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.’ He continued, ‘The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.’
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’
The old Cherokee replied, ‘The one you feed.'”
When positive things, good and wholesome thoughts are fed into the human spirit, the same will find its way to the surface of our lives to inspire and encourage. This may well be a reason why the apostle Paul wrote, “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” Philippians 4:8 – The Message Bible). As both life and death are within the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) choose life, speak life, and you will find your life a much better and happier home to live in.
Inspired by a sermon delivered at the Community Life Church in Forney, Texas on Sunday, May 1, 2016, by teaching pastor, Casey Coats.