I carry a concealed weapon. And, believe it or not, I am deadly. I know, because I've used my weapon against friend and foe alike. Before you either think that I'm some mixed-marital arts maven (for those of you who've never met me) or laugh hysterically (for those of you who have met me), let me say that you carry the same weapon: our tongues and the words we speak.
We, my friends, wield tremendous power through our words. I know women who have mastered the fine art of death by a thousand verbal cuts. And I know women who speak the language of encouragement and hope and empowerment. We have the power to choose daily, hourly and even moment by moment which woman we will be.
Our culture encourages our sharp tongues. Reality TV is filled with women who thrive on the clever verbal smackdown. Celebrities are stalked so we can read our favorite gossip websites tattling about their newest scandal. And, it seeps into our churches. We phrase it as a "prayer request" for another person...and then we share all the gory details of their situation, none of which needed to be shared in order to ask for prayer. Ouch, right? Or, we talk about what "that" church across town is doing as we cluck disapprovingly. Or, we take second-hand information about a juicy, interesting situation and, instead of going to the source to verify its truth, we pass it on. We expose fellow women in their moment of need instead of providing them mercy and grace by giving them cover through silence and the refusal to pass on the information.
This is hard stuff. I stumbled in this area earlier this past week, and it's been on my heart and on my mind. It wasn't a big deal...and yet it is a huge deal. I spoke hurtful words about someone who has been frustrating and annoying me lately.
I reread what James, Chapter 3:10-12 has to say about our tongue: "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh."
Watching our words is a continuous process that takes intentional thought. It is hard. I fail in this area on a regular basis. This isn't meant to condemn us, but to encourage us to be vigilant. We must watch our words and watch our tongues. If we don't, it is easy to use them as a deadly weapon, often against other women and against people we love the most.
Lord, thank you for the opportunities to speak life-affirming words into the lives of those around us. Open our eyes to the times when we used words as deadly weapons and help us to rethink those situations so we can intentionally react differently in the future. Forgive us and help us to become women who speak life and encouragement, not destruction into the lives of others. Amen.
About the Author:
Julie, a wife and mother of two, is an attorney in Central Minnesota. She is passionate about encouraging women and children through a variety of organizations, and is the Children's Ministry Coordinator at her church. She leads Bible studies and community groups, and speaks to women's groups. Julie loves coffee dates with friends, going on adventures with her kids, hiking next to Lake Superior, and perusing recipe books. Visit her blog at: http://theruthexperience.
Photo Credit: Alejandra Mavroski