My Bible study group is currently reading "Words That Hurt, Words That Heal" by Carole Mayhall. In this post, I wanted to share some thoughts from Chapter 1.
"The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life ... the tongue of the righteous is choice silver ... the lips of the righteous nourish many ..." (Proverbs 10:11, 20, 21)
Are my words worth listening to? Are they a fountain of life -- bubbling up life and truth, overflowing out fullness and abundance, refreshing those who hear? Or are they simply a babbling brook, a dime a dozen, or worse, a deadly poison?
This chapter opens with a thought-provoking story, about a young man's brief encounter with a man whose words were fountain of life. "I don't think I've had more than 20 minutes with Bob since I've worked here ... but every moment we've had, he's shared something with me that was just what I needed."
This simple story surprised me and challenged me ... are my words like that? Why not?
Jesus tells us that our words come from the abundance of our hearts. For my words to be a fountain of life, to encourage, challenge, refresh, they must flow from an abundance of life in my heart. "When we dwell deep with God, we will be -- to some people sometimes -- a fountain of life.
What should be dwelling so abundantly in my heart that it flows out in my words?
~ Praise ~I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalm 34:1)~ The Word of God ~Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:8)~ Encouragement and Comfort ~And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12)~ Wisdom and Justice ~The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. (Psalm 37:30)
From this list given in chapter one, I was most convicted about encouragement. I am not a natural encourager, as some of my friends clearly are, but Mayhall presented the idea of a habit of encouragement. This means I am not off the hook. To develop a good habit, it takes repeated practice. It may not feel natural at first, but (with God's work in my heart) I, too, can develop a habit of encouragement.
In all these things, we must learn to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15)or "be truthful and kind" (Proverbs 3:3). We are too often truthful in our words but hurtful, or kind and loving but not entirely honest.
Mayhall talks about the marriage of these two ideas so beautifully. "I wish I could place love and truth deep in my mind to filter every word I speak. Much would be left unsaid if these two concepts were the strainer used to purify my speech."
Thinking back over this past week, how would you describe your speech?
"Lord, teach me to speak the truth in love, to be both kind and truthful. Create in me a heart, abundantly overflowing with your love, your wisdom and your truth that the words that pour out from my mouth bring you glory and encourage those around me. Show me each day how to encourage and refresh and bring life with the words of mouth and the meditation of my heart."
I am currently reading Words That Hurt, Words That Heal by Carole Mayhall.
All unmarked quotes in this post are from Chapter 1 of this book.
Check out the other posts in this series.