Life and death are in the power of the tongue.
We’re probably all too familiar with the popular saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me,” yet nearly all of us can agree that it simply isn’t true. The Bible stresses that words have great and long-lasting power that quite literally hold the power of life or death. You can likely think back to a day when you were feeling down or depressed and then someone came along and paid you a complement or said something to cheer you up. A kind word had the power to lift your spirits and change your entire demeanor. However, negative words can have the same impact. We are often more likely to remember when someone put us down or said something hurtful to us. The sting and magnitude of those words can stick with us for the rest of our lives and are rarely ever forgotten. Our words can help or hinder, build others up or tear them down, heal or destroy.
"Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Proverbs 16:24
In Proverbs 16:24, kind and gracious words are compared to honey, a substance that's commonly used as a natural sweetener and a healing agent with many health-boosting properties. But did you know that the flavour and intensity of honey is totally dependent on the bees' environment and what kind of nectar they consume? To produce the sweetest and most high-quality honey, beekeepers will often place their beehives in a place that receives abundant sunlight, which keeps the bees warm throughout the day and helps them be more productive. They will also strategically place beehives near a patch of clovers, whose nectar produces the most light and sweet-tasting honey. In the same way, the sweetness of our own words is usually determined by who we surround ourselves with and the thoughts we choose to consume and believe. If we spend time with the Lord and fill our hearts and minds with His Word, we will produce kind and gracious words that have the power to heal and restore.
As Christians, we should be known for being sweet and encouraging to others while practicing patience and restraint with our tongues. This doesn't mean that we should avoid speaking the truth, but rather speak the truth in love and enveloped in the grace of the Gospel. But it must start within us first! Sometimes the most cruel and debilitating words are the ones we tell ourselves through our own negative self talk. Satan tries to use our words to cause division, put others down and even distract us from our identity in Christ but the same God, who by His Word formed the heavens and the earth, also has the power to breathe new life into our souls and bring healing and restoration to all those who believe.
Today, far too many people are holding onto deep emotional scars and desperately need to hear the encouraging word of the Gospel and to know that they are loved. Sometimes all it takes to start the conversation is a kind word. Be like a busy honeybee, filling yourself with God's goodness and producing the substance of sweetness and healing in the lives of others. Speak life into the lives of others and let words of love and kindness flow abundantly from your heart into the hearts of everyone around you.
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