A gossip is a person who creates the smoke in which other people assume there’s fire. -Anonymous
In the Book of Proverbs it reads… “Words have the power of life and death” -Proverbs 18:21
For many of us, we underestimate this truth, we underestimate the power of words, and when it comes to our own words we underestimate the damage we can cause in people’s lives simply by the things we say. Often times, we miss realizing how something so effortless and easy as words could be so powerful, but it’s true, words have the power of life and death.
Think about the power of words. When God created the whole word, the Bible tells us that God actually spoke it into being, “…and God said, let there be light” With all creation, the moment God spoke it, it happened.
We underestimate the power of our words. So what happens? At times we are careless with them, even reckless. We spend our words often as if they don’t count and don’t really matter. However, Jesus taught the opposite.
Jesus spoke of the importance if words, as a matter of fact, they are so important that…
Matthew 12:36-37 says…
But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Guys like king David in the Bible learned the power of words…
“Post a guard at my mouth, God, set a watch at the door of my lips.” – Psalm 141:3, MSG
David realized these things called words are super powerful, and he’d better be careful. Words are powerful in ways that we could never imagine…
o.o1 Words show exactly what’s in the heart.
Luke 6:45 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
You know there are really only two things we need to observe in a person’s life to get a good sense of the condition of their heart, one is there checkbook, (Jesus said where you treasure is, there will be your heart also) the other is the words they say, how they talk, what they say, and what they talk about. Words reveal the secret condition of the heart, people who trash talk, people who say mean things, people who gossip, people who use profanity first have a problem in their heart.
You can’t separate what people say and the condition of their heart, words mirror the heart. That’s how it works.
I remember the first church I pastored, there was this guy who looked all spiritual, everybody had the impression that he was some really great, faithful christian. He carried a bible around at all times, he has to be a super Christian right? Well, one day he was helping to put some siding on one our buildings and he hit his thumb with the hammer. Out of his mouth came about every cuss word you could think of. Everybody was in shock. What was deep within his heart was revealed in his words.
Proverbs 10:19 When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.
If you go to church, think about church life. If you work, think about your office life. When you see people getting around their agendas and talking it up, people murmuring about what they don’t like going on and what they are going to do about, and people having little secret conversations about this person or that person, you know, there’s a pretty good chance, some sin is going on as some not good things from the heart are coming out in words.
In college, I use to curse like a sailor, but when God changed my heart, my words changed almost overnight. Why? Because words reveal the heart, you can’t get around it, it’s like the guy at the church who hit his thumb, eventually you are found out, your words give you away. As Jesus taught, how we talk, what we say when we talk, the kind of words we choose, and how we use words in life say more about the condition of our heart than perhaps anything else.
o.o2 Words powerfully influence our future
James 3:3-6 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Here, James is teaching us that how we speak, what we say to our self, and the words we put out actually steer our lives, like a rudder steers a boat.
Jesus taught His disciples about the power of words one day while walking along the road when he cursed a fig tree. When they went back that same way the next morning, the tree had withered from the roots.
And then he told them, Mark 11:22-24 22 “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
See, there is a very real and biblical sense that your future is tied into how you speak to yourself and to others. Imagine if we were to start speaking towards the kind of future we want to have. The Bible says we reap what we sow. So, we can’t expect to be speaking words of death to ourselves and to others and then it result in a future full of life. If all you are speaking is death into your marriage, or your children, or your church, or your work, or your health, or your self-worth, you can’t expect it to translate into a future full of life.
So, instead of letting the confessions of your heart and the words you speak be tainted with death, defeat, and doubt, they need to be anointed with the oil of faith, trust, hopefulness, and love. Words can have a powerful determination of your future. How do you expect your marriage to turn around when all you say to yourself and maybe even to your spouse is, “this is never going to get any better, I just don’t see this thing ever working out?” How do you expect your self-esteem and confidence to get any better when all you say to yourself and even to other people is “I’m too fat” or “I am not as good as they are” or “I have made too many mistakes?”
We need to be speaking the Word of God and speaking from the Word of God into our life. Change your self talk, change the way you talk to others, and you can change your future and maybe theirs too.
o.o3 Words can make or break other people
When it comes to the words we speak, not only is our future at stake, but other people’s futures are at stake.
Proverbs 12:18 Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
What’s this saying? Our words are on of the most powerful weapons we have for good or for bad, and the choice is ours.
If you are the kind of person that isn’t careful with your words, do you realize what your gossip and trash talking is doing? Do you have any sense of what your mean, hurtful words are causing? There is almost nothing more powerful to hurt people, to hurt an organization, and to get in the way of God than gossip, trash talking, and talking negatively about people or things going on.
You say, “Well, how do I know if I am gossiping, or trash talking, how do I know if it is gossip or not?
Here is a way that has been helpful for me… T.H.I.N.K about what you are saying before you say it. If you answer “no” to any of the following, there is a pretty good chance that what you are about to say is gossip.
T- Is it True? Do you know for sure that what you are about to say is a fact? Did you learn it first hand, and therefore it’s not just your own opinion or somebody else’s? Have you spoken with that person directly and confirmed your assumptions? If not, you may need to just zip it.
H- Is it Helpful? Is your talking about whatever it is going to help or hurt, make more problems or less problems, create conflict or solve it, or help the situation or make it worse? Is what you are going to say speaking more about your agenda or God’s? Is it something that God wants you to say, or something you alone want to say? If what you want to say isn’t going to help God, that person, or the situation, if it isn’t going to partner with the Holy Spirit, you may need to just zip it.
I- Is it Inspiring? Does it put that person in the best light and give the benefit of the doubt? Does it believe in the best, does it hope for the best? Does it promote wholesome talk or pollute it? Does it cause others to believe in the best, or does it cause others to conclude the worst. If it assumes the worst, you may just need to zip it.
N- Is it Necessary? Does what you want to say really need to be said? Is it really anybody’s else’s business? Is it necessary for you to talk about?. Should you be talking about it with other people when you haven’t even gone face to face with that person? If it isn’t completely necessary, you may just need to zip it.
K- Is it Kind? Does it build, does it speak the truth in love? Are your words the same kind of words Jesus would say about that person? Are your words motivated out of real love and wanting to see the best happen in that person’s life or the situation at hand? If not, you may need to zip it.
Sure, there are moments when tough things absolutely need to be said, emotions need to be vented, and difficult situations dealt with. Jesus himself had some very tough conversations and some verbally poignant things to say to and about people. Some, that could even be considered hurtful and mean-spirited. At times, there is nothing politically correct, watered down, nor polished about Jesus and His use of words. Yet, the over all principal remains…
Ephesians 4:29 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.
It really is true, words have great power.
Just ask the parents of Megan Mier, a 13 year old who was bullied on myspace with words. Message after message was sent to her by one particular boy, messages like, “The world would be a better place without you.” The words got so bad and destructive that in her room one afternoon, she hung herself with tears in her eyes.
We can use words to harm people or to heal people. Never underestimate the power of words. The choice is ours. Jesus used words to do the miraculous, and He commands us to do the same.
“I can live two months on a good compliment.” –Mark Twain