In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. How? By speaking them into existence.
As He wrapped up His marvelous creation, God created the crown jewel of His work—human beings, made in His image.
Being God’s image means we reflect Him. We represent Him on the earth He made. We steward the rest of creation on His behalf.
If God created the incredible world around us by means of words, and we are created as God’s image, then our words are important indeed.
Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Go through the whole book of Proverbs, and you’ll find a myriad of verses talking about the wisdom of being careful regarding what comes out of our lips.
We have choices about the use of words. We can choose honesty or flattery. Careful attention or thoughtlessness. Words that build up, or words that tear down.
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James writes at length about our need to control the tongue,
“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is mature, able also to control the whole body. Now if we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we direct their whole bodies. And consider ships: Though very large and driven by fierce winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
So too, though the tongue is a small part of the body, it boasts great things. Consider how a small fire sets ablaze a large forest. And the tongue is a fire. The tongue, a world of unrighteousness, is placed[b] among our members. It stains the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
Every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and fish is tamed and has been tamed by humankind, but no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness.
Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers and sisters, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.”—James 3:2-12.
Strong words for us to heed.
I’ve written before about how we should take care not to speak evil of our opponents but pray for them.
We must also avoid the temptation to speak less than kindly about our clients who may be trapped in generational poverty, bearing last names known by all the police and nurses in the community.
We may be the only ones who speak words of life about some of those we serve. Let’s speak words that demonstrate we believe in them. More importantly, let’s speak words which show we believe in the transforming power of the gospel in a life and a family.
Perhaps you’re doing well in keeping a good attitude toward those who oppose the life-affirming mission. Maybe you’re good about speaking positive words concerning your clients.
There’s another group about whom we also need to speak words of life.
That group includes all the people involved in your ministry. Your staff and volunteers. Your board. Your supporters.
What kinds of words come out of your mouth when you talk about the folks around you who are putting their hand to the cause alongside you?
When you are tired and frustrated, when someone wrongs you or disappoints you, are you careful in what you say (and think) about them?
How about what you say to, or about, yourself?
When difficult times come in your ministry, do you blame yourself? Do you resort to putting yourself down, or even calling yourself names?
If you’re anything like me, you may end up berating yourself when things are hard. That’s a bad, old habit for some of us—a weird, unhealthy coping strategy.
I write from time to time in a spiral-bound journal. The gold lettering on the front reads, “Be kind to yourself.”
Maybe you need that helpful reminder right now, as I often do.
Remember, your words have power.
You are made in God’s image. Your words carry a degree of authority to either create or destroy.
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When James writes we should not curse people made in God’s likeness, that includes speaking destructive words over ourselves.
But the last thing we need is guilt about beating ourselves up. Let’s break the cycle instead.
If you haven’t been kind to yourself lately, consider how God feels about you. You are his precious one. His beloved child. He delights in you.
He doesn’t want anyone trash talking about you—including you!
Let’s agree with our heavenly Father’s assessment of ourselves—and intentionally speak uplifting words to our own hearts.
After all, we are pro-life.