A spirit of negativity is rampant in America. Probably the world, but definitely the United States.
This past weekend I spoke to a small group of military women, and I heard comments, problems, and concerns much like those in every other military town I know. But whether the group of women I’m with is military or civilian, I hear a common problem among them: we speak with a lot of negative words and tones.
Don’t worry. I’m talking about myself here too.
What Does the Bible Say about Our Words?
This is bigger than positive thinking. Bigger than the annoying people who pop out of bed with a smile on their face. In fact, it goes deeper than most of us like to think about. In Ephesians 4:29, Paul tells us:
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.
The Amplified Bible writes it this way:
Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
How’s that hit you? Unwholesome talk is hard enough, but worthless too? That ups the ante. And then Paul adds the qualifier that I should only speak what is helpful to build others up — wow! I fall very short of that command.
In Psalm 19, David asked that the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart be acceptable to God, which brings up an interesting question. What if we expanded Paul’s admonishment to only speak helpful, building words to ourselves?
Think about it: What if we practiced speaking positive, life-giving words over others and to ourselves? How much would that change your conversations? Or your thoughts? Or your relationships?
Wouldn’t this practice be a fulfillment of Philippians 4:8: Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
I’m not suggesting that we ignore the very real problems going on around us, but I do believe that what we think and what we speak affects our attitude. Our joy. Our ability to influence others.
Our effectiveness in God’s Kingdom.
The Practical Side of Changing Our Words
What could this look like? How do you begin the process of thinking and speaking differently?
Perhaps you are struggling to believe you are worthy of God’s love, good friends and quality relationships. You might choose to speak (yes, out loud, because spoken words are powerful) this over yourself:
I am a wild olive shoot, grafted in among the others and now sharing in the nourishing sap from God, the olive root (Romans 11:17). The Lord has chosen me to be a part of His people, His treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6). I am the apple of God’s eye (Zechariah 2:8) . He watches over me (Psalm 121:5), has plans to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) and will give me an abundant life (John 10:10). And absolutely nothing can separate me from my God and His love for me (Romans 8:38-39).
What do you think? If you said that out loud to yourself every day for a month, do you think it would change your perspective? Your attitude? Your level of joy? Perhaps renew your mind with God’s truth?
What if you purposely change the way you thought and talked about that person who irritates you? Or the difficult situation you find yourself in? I’m sure God’s Word has a verse or two that speaks the encouragement you need for whatever it is that you are going through. Are you willing to take those verses and repeat them to yourself, several times a day if necessary?
What if we really took God at His Word and practiced this? Take a look at the end of the verse in Philippians where it promises that when we speak only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, all who listen will benefit.
Not just the person speaking. Not just the person being spoken to or about. All who listen. That’s powerful! World-changing powerful.
What do you think?
Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24