"The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm. Exactly as with our words."—Unknown
The Bible echoes this truth. "Death and life are in the power of the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). So...stabbed anyone lately? I have to admit, words are powerful like a knife. I've been cut, and I've done some stabbing myself.
Quick to strike
The world around us tells us to speak our mind. After all, we have the right to say what we are thinking, right? If people don't like it, they don't have to listen. We say what's on our mind without hesitation (slash!), and the result can be a deep wound.
Sometimes we try to pull back and retreat from our attacks, but even after you pull a knife out, there is still pain. So our words can leave lasting effects on our victims.
In contrast, words of healing and health are a rare prize. Compliment others on a job well done or encourage them to try again when they make a mistake. "What, are you kidding me—and miss the perfect opportunity for self-promotion?!"
Why is it that people are so cautious in complimenting and building up, yet so quick to criticize and bring down?
One word...pride. Whether we realize it or not, verbal stabs are an attempt to make someone else look bad, so that by comparison we look better.
It’s selfish, inconsiderate, and people won't think you are cooler when you do it. If you hang out with those who constantly "bad mouth" others, what makes you think they don't do the same about you when you're not around?
There is little risk in words of encouragement. When was the last time someone snapped back at you with a sharp comment for saying something uplifting to him or her? We like genuine compliments and encouraging words.
The Bible says much about words and the power of the tongue. It calls the tongue "an unruly evil" that is impossible to tame, but admonishes us to seek perfection in controlling our words (James 3:8, 2).
But how do we control our words if God Himself says it is impossible to tame the tongue? The key is that it’s impossible to tame it by yourself. But with God all things are possible.
Here is your personal challenge. I dare you to do it! It can help change you from a verbal assassin to a delicate surgeon.
- For one day, keep a record of your words.
- Every time you say something negative, mark it down.
- Every time you say something positive, jot that down.
- At the end of the day, take a look. Any room for improvement? How many lives did you improve with uplifting words? How many did you diminish with destructive words?
Think more about how we speak to and treat each other by reading "Calming the Waters."
You and I control the sharpest object of all—the tongue. The question is: For what purpose will we use it? Will we strike a piercing blow to the inward parts? Or will we use our tongues for friendship, encouragement and a life-saving infusion of genuine love?
The knife is in your hands...or truly, in your mouth. VT