We can speak words so quickly and easily; like shooting guns, it takes less than half a second. And like guns, once we speak words we can’t unsay them. There’s no taking it back. And we have to live with the consequences of having said something so hurtful to someone we love.
Hello Readers, hope all’s well. Time for another #shorts post.
I’m sure everyone knows the phrase “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” It’s one of the most famous Scripture verses. And the meaning is simple: Words are powerful, words have importance. What we say matters.
(21) Death and life are in the power of the tongue;Proverbs 18:21 (CEB)
those who love it will eat its fruit.
Like firing a bullet from a gun, speaking words takes less than half a second. And although words are less deadly, they can still cause severe harm and wounds. And that’s not the only similarity between words and bullets, which I’ll elaborate on below.
But words are also different from bullets, of course. A major difference being that bullets have only one purpose (destruction), but words have infinite purposes and can be used in helpful, positive ways too. In the Bible, God’s Word, God teaches over and over to speak in these healthy positive ways rather than hurtful ways. In other words, what we say matters.
We can sin or we can honor God and help others with our words. And the whole time we also need to remember that once we say our words, we can’t take them back. All these things add up to this: We’ve got to watch what we say.
We Can’t Take it back
In the previous two posts I’ve written about guns. Guns have been on my mind because I recently did the process to buy one. But I promise I’m done with gun topics for awhile after today!! I don’t want to keep harping on the same thing everyday. But there was something I heard in the safety class (to be able to buy a gun) that stuck with me. I thought it was important, something everyone with a gun should know.
The instructor in the class said, “Once you shoot the gun, there’s no taking it back. There’s no saying ‘I’m sorry’ or doing it over. When you pull the trigger, that bullet fires and now what’s done is done. Now you have to live with the consequences of what you’ve lost, or what you’ve done. There’s no taking it back. With other kinds of mistakes you can say ‘I’m sorry’ and try to make it good. But you can’t do that with a gun accident. And it all happens in less than half a second.”
Tough words, but a true statement. It could have been the most important thing I heard during the entire gun safety class. As I continued thinking about what he said, I realized it was true about something else too: Words. Yes that’s right, words.
It’s a similar (but less deadly) situation with words. We can speak words so quickly and easily; like shooting guns, it takes less than half a second. And like guns, once we speak words we can’t unsay them. There’s no taking it back. Words can hurt people all the way down to their core, their Soul. And we have to live with the consequences of having said something so hurtful to someone we love. We can’t unsay words; there’s no taking it back.
We must be careful, deliberate, and Loving with our words. The Bible is crystal clear on this, because the Bible teaches this over and over again in both Testaments. In both Testaments, God emphasizes in His Word that: “Words matter!! Words have power!! Be careful what you say to people, and to yourself!! Speak in a way that builds people up, not tears them down!!”
If we don’t keep God’s teachings on this topic in our heart, or if we underestimate the power of words, we will sin in this area. And I reckon underestimating the power of words is a major cause of people sinning with their words. They think: “It’s only words, they don’t matter. This person should just get over it.” But ideas like this ignore the Soul pain (emotional and mental pain) words cause, and they also ignore the Spiritual aspect of words. Insults and the like meant to tear people down are a form of witchcraft. A demonic witchcraft spirit empowers insults to cause the most Soul pain to the target, the most harm and suffering. This is against God’s Will, so someone who spews insults speaks in service of the devil and aids his cause, not Christ’s.
The Soul pain words cause can last even for a lifetime. It’s possible the person targeted will never forget them, and when they think of them they will still be hurt by them. The wounds caused by words stay painful for many years. In that sense we should think of our words as bullets. Like how a bullet can leave lifelong pain like paralysis or brain damage, words can leave other kinds of lifelong pain. Our words matter, and we can’t take them lightly.
Once we say it, we’ve said it. We can’t put those words back in our mouth in the same way we can’t un-fire a bullet. The other person can choose to graciously Forgive us for what we said, choosing to not seek payback for the pain caused. But at the end of the day, we can still never unsay what we said. The other person could remember what we said forever, even if they do choose to graciously Forgive us.
Will We Build up or Tear down??
At the same time, of course we all know there are tons of major differences between words and bullets. One is that bullets only have one purpose: Destruction. But words have infinite purposes, and unlike bullets can be used to build people up. We can use our words to build people up Spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. We can encourage, guide, and heal with our words. Bullets can’t do any of that.
Remember Proverbs 18:21—death AND LIFE are in the power of the tongue!!
One of the most Loving things we can do with our words is to speak the truth. Now, the truth often hurts, so the person we speak to may be shocked or offended by the truth and unwilling to accept it. But the most Loving thing to do is to speak the truth anyway. We aren’t hurling insults when we speak the truth, or sinning with our words. (Of course since communication is a skill, we can study and practice this skill and get better at speaking the truth effectively in ways the other person will be more inclined to accept.)
Let’s consider the following example, and the difference between speaking the truth vs. sinful insults should become clear.
Sinful insult (a word bullet): “You’re fat.”
Loving truth: “The body is a temple for the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). That means we must respect, value, and care for the body. Being obese and eating junk food strains and harms the body, especially over the long-term. It’s best for you and most pleasing to God if you started exercising and eating right. I’m telling you this out of love for you.”
Notice how the Loving truth offers a way for the person to improve themselves (building up), but the insult offers nothing helpful. All the insult does is try to make the person feel bad about themselves (tearing down). Insults offer no way forward, no advice, no help; all they do is tear down. But the Loving truth can guide, encourage, comfort, educate, and more things, all positive. Although the Loving truth may hurt to listen to, it always builds up and never tears down.
With that in mind, let’s all take the utmost caution with our words. Remember that, like bullets from a gun, once we launch them out there we can’t take them back. We can’t unsay our words like we can’t un-fire a bullet from a gun, and the consequences of what we say could last a lifetime. But unlike bullets, our words can also build people up and have a positive effect on them. Let’s remember that too, and only speak the Loving truth in a way that empowers others and builds them up.
Let’s not fire word bullets, but speak life into others instead.
That’s it for #shorts Part 35.
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