Your words can bring two things. First, encouragement. Ella Wheeler Wilcox said, ‘A pat on the back is only a few vertebrae removed from a kick in the seat of the pants, but is miles ahead in results.’ Solomon said, ‘Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim’ When life is hard, ‘…a word spoken at the right moment – how good it is!’. Hope pierces the despair, and people begin to believe that they really have a chance to make it. Many a wounded soul has got through their deepest valley on the strength of a word of encouragement. ‘Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones’. People wounded by life are healed by words of encouragement. Just a card, an e-mail, a phone call – the Bible calls them ‘…apples of gold in settings of silver’. Second, your words can bring salvation. ‘The fruit of the… righteous is a tree of life, and he who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men – he gathers and receives them for eternity]’. The highest use of your tongue is telling others about Jesus. He doesn’t need to be defended, just introduced. ‘The mouth of a good person is a deep, life-giving well…’ You can speak life-giving words to those who are lost, and help change their past, their present and their future. Your words can also help people to mature and grow in their relationship with God. Yes, ‘The lips of the righteous feed many…’
A World War II poster reads, ‘Careless words cost lives’. So when you hear something negative about someone, ask yourself four questions. First, is it true? ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour’. That’s one of the Ten Commandments, not the ten suggestions! Until you’re certain it’s true, say nothing. Wait; time always reveals the truth. Second, is it confidential? Did you hear it as a result of someone else’s having broken a confidence? If you speak it, will you be contributing to the violation of a confidence? Remember, ‘Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered’. Your usefulness to God requires that you don’t sacrifice your integrity by betraying trust. Third, is it helpful? Will it tear others down or build them up? Satan is devoted to pulling down, discouraging and defeating; don’t be his accomplice. ‘Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen’. Will it be beneficial and encouraging to those who hear it? Finally, is it necessary? Stop and ask yourself, ‘What do others and the cause of Christ gain by my saying it, or lose by my not saying it?’ Always keep this in mind: you’re more likely to regret the things you said than the things you didn’t. ‘A fool uttered his entire mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards’. Be wise; be careful what you say.