We live in a time when our thoughts and opinions can be shared throughout the world at a moment’s notice, with little to no accountability. It is easy to forget that we will all have to give an account for every empty word we have ever spoken.
“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.” – Matthew 12:36-37
When I consider the fact that John 1:1 describes Jesus as the Word, it greatly convicts me of the many times I have used my words judgmentally, hastily, and carelessly.
We spend a lot of time considering the right words to say, the right tone to use, and the right time to speak. God’s Word tells us that it is not only what we say and how we say it that is important. What is equally important is what we choose not to say.
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.” – Ecclesiastes 5:2
I am guilty of being a “problem fixer.” To make sense of life, I’m often tempted to wrap things in a bow and offer easy answers for complicated problems. Unfortunately, that has led me to make some careless statements in haste without genuinely considering how they would be received.
On their own, these statements may seem harmless and well-intentioned:
- ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle.’
- ‘God does everything for a reason.’
- ‘God is in control.’
But to the woman who was just diagnosed with cancer…
- to the woman who is planning funeral arrangements for her husband or her child…
- to the woman who has miscarried for the 3rd time…
- to the woman who has just been sexually assaulted…
…these well-intentioned words can be heartbreaking and devastating.
The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. – Proverbs 12:18
God speaks purposefully into our lives. He doesn’t waste words or speak without reason. Each word in Scripture has significance and power. We must never underestimate the power of our words to be life-draining rather than life-giving.
Because God is our Comforter, and we are created in His image, we naturally have a strong desire to comfort others. For many of us, that comfort involves speaking words of encouragement.
However, when people are in the midst of tragedy and experiencing overwhelming pain, it is often our Spirit-led actions that speak louder than our words.
Jesus used His words to bring life and hope to people. When there were no words to say, Jesus listened. He wept with those grieving, served those who were hungry, ate with those who were rejected and persecuted, and healed those who were broken.
We must follow Jesus’ example. We can breathe life into people with silence, by ministering with a hug, a listening ear, a helping hand, or simply our presence.
The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. – Proverbs 15:28
We often ask the Holy Spirit to guide our words, but we also need to ask Him to guide our listening. Over the last couple of months, I have begun praying Psalm 141:3: “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord, keep watch over the door to my lips.” The Holy Spirit responded by maturing me in the skill of active listening. It has had a significant impact on my connections with people. My silence has been a gift from God. May God bless us all as we seek to honor Him with our words and with our silence.
How can we pray for you as you seek the Holy Spirit’s help with hindering your empty words?
Peace and grace to you,
Terria serves on the LGG encourager and social media teams. She lives in Virginia with her husband. Her passion is igniting and empowering women to grab hold of God’s truth and cling to it. She can be found hard at work in military hospitals listening to patients’ stories while sharing the love that God has poured out in her life. Despite the sometimes chaotic circumstances of Terria’s life, God always shows Himself strong and loving.
Week 3 Challenge: It is important we learn to control the words we speak. Pay attention to the words you speak this week, making sure they are honoring to God. Reach out to a friend to pray for you and hold you accountable.
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