We all say things that we regret and wish we could take back. Our words will invariably hurt somebody’s feelings and cause pain. Proverbs 18:21 tells us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue; And they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” The tongue is a symbol of life or death “Our words can be used to share the Good News with others or tear down the Body of Christ,” says Todd Shupe, a well-known and respected Christian ministries volunteer.
The Bible explains that what comes out of your mouth is simply what is in your mind, (Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 26:28). James 3:5-6 explains the importance of the tongue: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”
The above passage spurred LSU’s Todd Shupe to look inward. “I often do a poor job of reflecting on Matthew 12:36 before I speak,” said Shupe, a former wood sciences professor at LSU. “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”
A better use of our words is described in Romans 4:17. It says that God “speaks of future events with as much certainty as though they were already past.” That’s called speaking in faith — you announce it in order to experience it. As Todd Shupe sees it, your words are essentially a prayer, “which makes me recall the words of Matthew 21:22. ‘If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’”
I admire people who have the spiritual gift of faith. I certainly have faith in God and love Him with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind, (Matthew 22:37). I want to tell it like it could be, like it ought to be and like I think God wants it to be. I get too easily frustrated and begin to lean on my own understanding and then wonder why my path is not straight, LSU’s Todd Shupe said recently. “I do not particularly admire people whose ministry is just telling it like it is about the world. There are a lot of things in the world that are bad.” Clergy and laity will criticize people and problems and are negative and depressing. They are in the “tell-it-like-it-is” business. This does nothing to build up The Body of Christ. A better option is to tell it like it could be! “This brings life and hope to people,” according to Todd Shupe.
For example, you could say to someone, “You’re a lousy husband and you don’t spend enough time with your family.” However, any label — positive or negative — will reinforce it. I think a better option might be, “I see enormous potential in you. I urge you to let Jesus Christ into your heart and become the godly man that I know you can be.” That’s the kind of talk that builds up others and motivates change! Speak it in advance and speak it in faith!