"With the tongue [words] we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers [and sisters], this should not be."1
I recently read about a middle-aged man who has been struggling with chronic depression for many years. His counselor told him that he would need to be on antidepressant drugs for the rest of his life. He told the counselor that his father, a self-made head of a large corporation, repeatedly said to him, "Son, when you inherit the family business, I expect you'll ruin it."
"These words stung more painfully each time he heard them. When his father died, the man felt driven to work unreasonably long hours to prove his dad's prediction wrong. The pressure to avoid failure that relentlessly gnawed at him was quieted only by alcohol. Soon a serious drinking problem developed. His wife threatened to leave him. Finally he succumbed to ongoing depression for which he could find relief only in drugs. His life was devastated by the power of his father's tongue."2
I was once told that I was physically ugly. It took me years to overcome that one sentence because, tragically, I believed it. However, I have since learned that it had more to do with the person who spoke those words than it had to do with me.
With words we can bless or curse others; encourage or discourage; hearten or dishearten them. They can be powerful motivators or de-motivators. Let's always use them as an instrument of healing and encouragement—and never use them to hurt, demoralize, or destroy another.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank you for the gift of words. Please fill my heart with your love so I will always use words as a blessing to others and never as a curse. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
may soon pass away
and forgotten be,
but when spoken
in love and kindness,
are like beautiful flowers,
and even though
they fade and die
from conscious memory,
their fragrance lives on
embedded in the
deeper mind —
– Dick Innes
1. James 3:9-10 (NIV).
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3. Poem by Dick Innes, beautifully presented is available for framing. See: http://tinyurl.com/words-spoken.