By Steve Troxel
God's Daily Word Ministries
Every day we are given the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Every time we open our mouth to speak, we send forth words which have an effect on those around us. Our words, which come "out of the overflow of the heart" (Matthew 12:34), will either cause a positive or negative reaction - our word are rarely neutral. Knowing the power of our words ought to cause us to use them with great care.
"Do not let 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 those who listen."
This means that every time we speak, we have the opportunity to encourage and minister. With just a few moments of our time and very little effort, we have the opportunity to brighten someone's day, to ease their burden, and possibly draw them closer to God. This precious opportunity must not be taken lightly; "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken" (Matthew 12:26).
Though our careless words are eternally forgiven, they are also a reflection of our heart. If we have received Jesus as our Lord and Savior, our heart ought to be filled with devotion, and our words should be filtered through a desire to bring Him glory and honor. I'm afraid we will one day be deeply ashamed to see how much damage our words have caused.
We seldom realize how harmful and discouraging our words can be: "Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I was only joking!'" (Proverbs 26:18-19). Sarcastic and joking words are "deadly arrows" which are never useful for "building others up." Over time, this mode of communication is sure to destroy a relationship.
Before we speak, we must carefully listen. What is the real question? What are the real needs? "He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame" (Proverbs 18:13). We may only be given the opportunity to speak a few words, but we can make every effort to use our words wisely; "The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil" (Proverbs 15:28).
Our words are a powerful gift. Let's honor our Heavenly Father by effectively using this gift to encourage. Let's speak so those who listen may benefit and be built up in their faith. Let's continually encourage one another to draw closer to our Heavenly Father and never squander the opportunity of our words.
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