If there is one thing I have learned in my love for writing and reading, it is that words are powerful; so very powerful. Think about it. Everything you say, read, or write garners a reaction from someone somewhere. So do you think before you speak?
Over the past year thinking about what I say before I say it has hit home more than once because I love words and I’m obviously a wordy girl. In short, I love to talk! An explanation from my husband may take 30 seconds and 100 words while one from me…well, let’s just double (or quadruple) the amount of time and words for the same explanation. Yes, I admit, I have a lot to say and I am not always concise when I say it. This is not the problem at hand, however. The problem is when people speak BEFORE they think. I mean, we are such rash beings who need instant gratification so why would we think before we speak, right?
Well, friends, can we change that, please?
SO OFTEN we are not putting forth the fruits of the Spirit in our words because we allow our fast acting mouths to direct our reactions. You may ask a simple question and mean no harm, but it is taken the wrong way because of the way we speak about it. We ASSUME. Now, I had a WONDERFUL English/Literature teacher in my high school (shout out to Mrs. Holt and my Macomb posse’) and she taught us that assume means you make a donkey out of you and me; HA! Get it? Ok, I am SURE this is common knowledge, but she taught it to me and while I don’t really like to use derogatory words like that, in this case, it was needed to make her point.
So, I too have a point, I promise.
Even in texting there is a tone. For instance, if you text someone assuming one thing with never asking the details on what actually happened, the recipient is going to probably be annoyed and/or offended. Is it so hard to extend common courtesy? Before you begin assuming and spout off angry words, think! Scripture tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19 NIV), so why, friends, are we not doing this very thing?! SLOW to speak. And the best way to be slow to speak is to take time to think before we speak.
While it is common knowledge that I am an over-speaker, the fact that I am an over thinker may not be as well known unless you know me well. I often think of the outcome my words will have before I share them. I can’t tell you how many blog posts I have that have never been published because of this, and don’t get me started on the number of texts I have taken eons to write out but never pressed send. (AND, because I am a writer, I also save 99% of these messages…hey, we all have our quirks, ok). Whatever happened to the Golden Rule? Let me find the biblical equivalent real quick, not because I don’t have it memorized, but because I want to copy it word for word so we can ALL see AND so I can ensure accuracy: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12 NIV). THIS SUMS UP THE LAW. Hold on, though, I have more! Did you know that the disciples asked Jesus which was the greatest commandment AND (as he always does) He answered!? “’Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself’. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’”.
Hold on a sec, ALL the Law hangs on these commandments? AND we have to love our neighbor as ourselves? Well, isn’t that a lot to ask of us? I mean, can you imagine loving someone else as much as you love yourself? Be honest here, we live in a society that teaches us love of self. We read self-help books and relish individuality like no other generation. We are IN LOVE with ourselves and NOW we have to love others that much? AND we have to be nice to others (I mean, are we even nice to ourselves anymore, really?)
Do you realize that Christ prayed before every sermon he gave? Did you know he reached out to his Father for guidance too? I mean, He had the power to stand on a boat in the sea and make his voice heard to thousands with no sound system; he didn’t take his job lightly. Ever. But Scripture tells us again and again how he prayed! In Mark 1:35 we read how Christ prayed BEFORE going and speaking to people. In Matthew 23 He prayed then went to save the disciples on the stormy sea. Jesus prayed long and hard before preaching the well known Sermon on the Mount. Jesus knew to think before he spoke, so why are we not doing the same thing? Are we above Him? Are we too good to pray and think before we speak and act? (Again, I include myself because I am FAR from innocent!). How dare we!
Besides, why would we NOT want to do this? Are we so intent on building ourselves up that we must tear each and every person down in the process? Have we become so self-important and involved that this is what we do; this is the norm? Have we forgotten that we are to do HIS will and not our own? (Obedience is really hard, am I right?!) Friends! I beg of you to stand with me on this! Let us become a community of people who are mirroring the image of Christ as we should be! Let us REALLY be His hands and feet; healing and moving, working for His Kingdom! Let us do this in ALL things, but why not start here!? I think if we all worked on this tiny aspect of simply being considerate we could really make a difference in His name.
Think about it for a minute. If we are practicing the art of self-indulgence do you really think we are going to reach the world (remember that final instruction from Jesus? Go out and preach…)? If our nation is selfish on a whole, what is the point of us not letting “any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may BENEFIT (emphasis added) those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV) (little side note, this happens to be my favorite New Testament book).
Now friends, this is not to say that discipline or judgement is never needed. I think I have made my point of view on judgement clear before (recap in my words as per Scripture: if you are going to judge, be prepared to be judged, and before you do said judging, make sure you are without sin and in a position where you are not being a hypocrite before confronting your brother or sister). There are times when it is necessary to judge our BROTHERS AND SISTERS which means there are times we can speak the truth in love, but the truth may hurt and sound harsh.
The long point is, have some compassion. People are always going through something and you have no earthly idea what it is at the time, so, before you send out an accusing text or long ranting facebook message or drawn out voice mail, stop and think about that. Think about the last time you went through something really difficult and how you felt when someone assumed your life was roses and clovers when in reality it was a jumbled mess. Don’t be that person, be the one who has compassion; the one people won’t ignore when they see your name on the caller i.d.
In a nutshell, just be nice!:)
Words are powerful! Isaiah is reading one of my favorite poets in school right now (who doesn’t love a good Frost?) and seeing him read the words that help nurture my own love of writing makes me realize just how powerful words are. Think of how you feel when reading “Stopping by the Wood on a Snowy Evening” and contrast that with how you feel when reading something like “The Raven” by Poe. Both wonderful and beautiful, but when I read one, I hear a promise of tomorrow and all the things to come while reading the other makes me think that tomorrow might not come. Going deeper, think of the difference when you read passages from a book such as Psalms which is full of hope and praises and hymns and compare that to a book such as Revelation where we are reading apocalyptic and prophetic narratives. But also think of the words of Christ when he assured us that there is a way to the Father through Him, or when he tells us to take heart during our troubles because he has overcome the world.
Words are powerful, friends. Those anti-bully campaigns don’t lie, so use them wisely, please!