Words Matter

Our daughter Sarah recently shared the following conversation she had with her son, Drew, when they were out and saw a woman walking her dog:

Drew: What kind of dog is that?

Sarah: That's an English Sheepdog.

Drew: What does that mean?

Sarah: It means the dog is originally from England, like Uncle Ben.

Drew: Oh, I bet it barks weird then.

My grandson had it right. Uncle Ben does speak a little “weird,” but he probably feels the same way about us! Of course, our accent doesn’t matter, but the actual words we use matters a great deal!

The words we speak are incredibly powerful and this applies to more than what we might deem “off-color conversation.” For instance, God exhorts us through the apostle Paul, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

From my perspective this includes being judgmental or critical of others. Now that is a real challenge! I realize I can’t do this on my own—I need help.

My wife, Deb, and I have decided to keep each other accountable and to lovingly correct each other when we hear any judgmental comments from the other person. It is an area we are seeking to grow in together.

We realize the impact of our speech—that words do indeed matter. God’s Word tells us to seek to edify others, not to judge or criticize them. To apply the Scriptures correctly, we need to focus on understanding the needs of people around us so we can build them up and give grace to them in an appropriate way. We are asking God to help us impact people positively by speaking graciously and in an up-building way, even if they “bark weird.”

When has another person’s words had a significant positive impact on you? How can you train yourself to speak more graciously? Who in your world can use a word of encouragement to today?

Bob Reusser directs the Nav Encore Mission of The Navigators. You can learn more about his ministry here.

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