An Example in Speech

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 

Picture this.  You’re standing in a beautiful forest, and all that you can hear are the chirping of crickets as the brook bubbles across the stones blanketing the creek bed. Everything is peaceful. All of a sudden you see a spark. It’s nothing huge, just a single spark of fire. The spark catches a patch of tall grass, and before you know what to do, the whole forest is ablaze in the fiery flames, licking at the surrounding trees.

A lot can come from something as small and simple as a spark. This same principle is true with our words. They can seem small and insignificant, but they encourage much growth, or just as quickly cause much damage. Why did I liken it to a fire? Well, the illustration above came straight from the book of James.

“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! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.”  James 3:5-6

Have you ever heard the phrase: “actions speak louder than words”? Well, this might be true in some cases, but not all. Or how about, “sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you?” This phrase is very untrue. Actions can hurt you, but words also scar and often stick with you for the rest of your life.  That’s pretty extreme!  I mean, they’re just words, right? Wrong.

Words are so very important! They can build people up, or can tear them down. Words can encourage or discourage. Words can bring life and death (Proverbs 18:21). Do you still think that words aren’t too significant? Check this out:

“God spoke. And the world began. That’s it. He spoke and there was an ocean, and he spoke and beaches blocked the water from overtaking the land. He spoke and giraffes poked out their long necks, stars shined, dogs wagged their tails, trees blossomed, humans breathed.”

~Annie F. Downs, Speak Love

Wow. To say what comes out of our mouth is important, is definitely an understatement. Words are vital to everything! Think about it. God spoke to create the entire world! He could have just done it with his hands and molded it like clay, but he chose instead to use His words. This alone illustrates how powerful words can be.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that as a Christian you can just say the word “tree,” and one will magically appear in your garden. Your words aren’t that powerful!  But you can still use your words for great things, even if they seem small. People are watching. They are listening.  What do they hear from you?  Here are some simple ways to use your words to make a difference:

Encouragement: This could possibly be one of the most important and powerful uses of our tongue.  Think about it; how often have you heard your peers building each other up? It probably doesn’t happen a lot. What if you made the difference? What if you made a purposeful decision to actively start encouraging your friends, in their walk with the Lord, in the school work, in their lives?  Lots of people tear others down because it makes them feel better about themselves, which is really sad when you come to think about it. This is why we as Christians need to speak kindly and lovingly towards others. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29,

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that may give grace to those who hear.”

God wants us as believers to speak words of grace that are good for building others up. He does not want us to speak corruptly or harshly. Use your words to encourage other people, and you might just be surprised as to the results.

Worship: Worship is a great way to use your words to glorify God! Just look at Psalm 100 which is a whole chapter in the Bible devoted to giving prayer and praise to God! Take look at Psalm 119:172 where it says,

 “My lips will pour forth praise, for you teach me your statutes. My tongue will sing of your word, for all your commandments are right.”

Pouring your soul out to God through praise and thanksgiving can have a huge impact on not only your Christian walk, but on those around you as well. By seeing you worship, others will notice something different about you and may want to be a part of that too. How does it help with your Christian walk? By praising God you will begin to realize and maybe understand a bit more just how awesome and glorious He really is! The more that you praise, the more you get to know Him, the closer you will grow to Him. People are always watching you, noting your actions and words. If you’re close to God and worshipping Him, you may just encourage others to do the same.

Think Before You Speak: This isn’t that hard to do, right? You would be surprised how many times I’ve said something without thinking about it, and have ended up hurting someone in the process. This can be so important when talking with anyone, from a family member to a friend. Proverbs 12:18 says,

“There is one whose rash words are like a sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

Often it is best not to say the first thing that pops up into your head. Before answering, think back to Scripture and ask yourself what God would want you to do in your situation. Are your words hurting or healing?

But what’s the point of doing all of this? Why is it necessary? God’s Word tells us as His followers to be examples of Him.  This is why it is so important that we as believers in Christ should be reflecting God through our actions, but also our words.

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