Never underestimate the value of words.
Many of us remember the old story of the pastor who called the children to the front of the church for their weekly children’s time, whereupon he produced a tube of toothpaste. The pastor squeezed some toothpaste onto a piece of cardboard, and asked the children to figure out how to put the toothpaste back in the tube.
They were, of course, unsuccessful, and the pastor thus reminded the children that our words are similar: once we say something, it’s out. We can’t take it back. So it’s important to choose our words carefully, to build up and not tear down with our words.
We regularly regret hurtful words we say, but we can’t take them back; we can only apologize and hope to be reconciled with the person or people whom we hurt with our words.
While attending my denomination’s general assembly these past few days, I heard a lot of words: motions, amendments to motions, amendments to amendments to motions, impassioned pleas, stories of joy and stories of woe. I also had occasion to chat with someone from a congregation in which I had done ministry a couple of times many years ago. As we spoke, she reminded me of some words I had shared with her – a loving challenge, really – which had been significant for her. I remembered that encounter, and she reiterated her appreciation for those words, and reminded me that the words I say can make a difference.
Never underestimate the value of words. The words you say can make a difference. Choose your words wisely and well. God can and will use them.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18.21, ESV). Let’s all bear the fruit of love, and share the fruit of tongues whose power is used to edify others.