You know that feeling when you are saying just a little too much? Or, when you are being manipulative? Have you ever crushed someone with your words? Most of us can remember specific words spoken to us that were devastating. The tongue is like a little match that can cause blisters deep into the soul of a friend and kindle destruction in a relationship. Has your sarcasm scarred your spouse's self image? Or, have angry words left a relationship in a pile of smoldering rubble? James says that if you can tame the tongue, you'll have control over your whole body. He also says that the tongue is set on fire by the fires of Hell.
The fires of Hell burn hot with the fuel of lies, envy, greed, lust, selfishness, complaints, gossip, and angry bitterness. These flames scald and burn. But, they also seer the conscience of the speaker. Hell is a total absence of God's goodness. Imagine what that can do to people within range of a tongue smoking with the heat of Hell's fires.
But, there's a better way! There's the Jesus way!
We're here to build each other up with our words. Instead of burning, we build. Imagine you see a friend who is living in a house that is tilted and sagging. You look under the house and you see that one of the supports is missing. So, you get some lumber and you fix the support. It's the same way with our words. As we see the needs, we will use our words to build up!
Encouraging, truthful words bring blessing into people's lives and build them up. Try this for a week: Simply speak blessing into the lives of people around you. Tell them how much you love them and thank them specifically for their skills and contributions. Tell your pastor that you are proud of him for his integrity and perseverance. Tell your neighbor that she is doing a really good job raising her children.
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. Ephesians 4:29.
Our motive is really important here. If we are always on the prowl to fix people, our words will not be encouraging. The motive for fixing people is usually anchored in pride. The motive for building other up "according to their needs" should grow from Christ's love.
Patience and timing are important when building others up. The right words at the wrong time can crack the structure. Christ is the foundation and we are helping to build the house. Our truthful, loving, timely words will benefit those who listen.
Last! Relationships! It's hard to build if you don't know the blueprint or are unfamiliar with the job site. With the Bible as the blueprint, we must do the hard work to learn the job site. Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be available. Take the risk of your love and honesty not being reciprocated. Part of taking up your cross daily, is to allow yourself to be hurt in this process. A jammed thumb or hammering the wrong nail will happen. Take those to Dr. Jesus, and stay focused on "being helpful, building others up according to their needs."
We're a family on mission to bring the good news of Jesus to the Philippines.