Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
— James 3:4–5

Something that almost all of us have in common is that we talk. And we talk a lot. Some of us more than others, but we all talk. We do more talking than we do anything else. Most of us will only make a handful of giant, life-altering decisions in our lives. And most of us will not be recorded in the history books to be talked about 300 years after our lives. This is a harsh truth that we have a hard time grasping sometimes. But, there is so much life and purpose in what we would often call the mundane day-to-day life. This is where we live. If God is not the God over us in these “unexciting” times, then is he is not the God over our lives. What is it that fills the “uneventful” times in our lives? It is our words. Words have so much power and effect on our direction throughout life. In fact, communication and words are something that makes us the most like God. 

The first words ever spoken were by God himself. All throughout scripture we see the power of words. Man and creation were spoken into existence. Walls came tumbling down with a shout. Jesus sustains the universe by the power of his word. Jesus could heal with a word, cast out demons with a word. Jesus’ words are eternal and will live forever. Those that heard Jesus were amazed by his words. 

Words connect us to God, and God says that there is much power in our words. This means that God has a purpose for our words. Until we understand that our words are a meaningful tool that God uses to sanctify us and to show his love, we do not truly bear the image of our Lord. Our words are not our words, just like our money is not our money,  just like our lives are not our lives. Our words are God’s words. What are we doing with our words? Proverbs is a masters class on how we should use our words and what type of power they have. Paul David Tripp summarizes this part of Proverbs like this, “Words give life, words bring death — you choose.” If all of our words do one of these two things, then that means that none of our words are neutral. 

This ties in so perfectly with our sermon from last week, which stated that direction, not intention, determine your destination. Every single one of our words has direction in them, life or death. Paul David Tripp says that if your words are moving in the life direction, they will be words of encouragement, hope, love, peace, unity, instruction, wisdom and correction. But if your words are moving in a death direction, they will be words of anger, malice, slander, jealousy, gossip, division, contempt, racism, violence, judgment and condemnation.

Every day, every moment, I get to choose with my words that this is a chance to die to myself and to live for Jesus. My words are not mine, they are his. To be slow to speak my initial thought and emotion, and to choose the words of life.  My words have power. The everyday decisions that I make with words have direction and power. Words bear fruit.

So what should our words look like? Here is a helpful reference from Justin Taylor from the book, The Power of Words and the Wonder of God.

PROVERB

GODLY WORDS

UNGODLY WORDS

10:32

The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable.

The mouth of the wicked [knows] what is perverse.

12:18

The tongue of the wise brings healing.

Rash words are like sword thrusts.

13:1

A wise son hears his father’s instruction.

A scoffer does not listen to rebuke.

13:3

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life.

He who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.

13:10

With those who take advice is wisdom.

By insolence comes nothing but strife.

13:18

Whoever heeds reproof is honored.

Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction.

14:3

The lips of the wise will preserve them.

By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back.

14:25

A truthful witness saves lives.

One who breathes out lies is deceitful.

15:1

A soft answer turns away wrath.

A harsh word stirs up anger.

Words give life, words bring death — you choose! May God help me to see the power and direction of my words as I desire to be more like him daily. 

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