Well it's crazy to imagine,
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die.
So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night...
– Speak Life, TobyMac
“Mouth.” That is one of my husband’s nicknames for me. My guess is when he calls me that, he is not being complimentary.
Once when he called me that I quickly retorted, “If you only saw the many thoughts floating in my head that never make it out my mouth, you would hand me an award!”
Another time when he called me that I told him to stop giving me so much material.
Those statements probably didn’t do much to assuage his justification for the nickname.
Growing up in a family where sarcasm heavily permeated the air, I know the linger of it on my tongue can tire my husband at times, and rightly so.
The other day I was surprised when I overheard on the radio that we speak enough words in a month to fill a book the size of War and Peace.
In doing a little digging, I found that a study by the University of Maryland's College of Medicine several years ago found that on average, women speak about 20,000 words per day. Considering that the word count for War and Peace is 587,287 words, we do indeed speak enough words each month to fill the pages of one of the largest novels ever written!
So the question I pondered is, “What kind of book am I 'writing' each month?”
What would the title be? How about the overriding themes? What categories would it fall under? What stories do my words tell?
Going a little deeper, what do my words reveal about the inner state of my heart? Do they reflect my sinful nature? Or, do they reflect the Holy Spirit living in me? Do they reflect well my creator God and precious Savior?
We all know the power of words. We have been the recipient of words that have challenged, encouraged, and inspired us. We have also been the recipient of words that have shamed, demoralized, and discouraged us.
And, I think it is safe to say, we have also been the deliverer of both kinds of words.
James, in the Holy Scriptures, does not mince words about the power of the tongue. He compares it to a spark that can set a forest on fire (James 3:5). He calls the tongue: fire, a world of evil, a restless evil and full of deadly poison. “It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell” (James 3:6, 8).
Wow. Those are some pretty intense words! And not flattering descriptions for that small body part. But, they definitely describe what emerges from my mouth at times. How about you?
In Ephesians, Paul encourages us in positive ways we can use our mouth. He tells us to speak the truth in love to one another, to encourage one another with songs from the spirit, and to fearlessly make known the gospel (Ephesians 4-6).
And James encourages us to be slow to speak (James 1:19). In other words, I believe he wants us to think before we speak…to run our words through the filter of the Holy Spirit.
I hope the following questions are helpful to ponder when we consider the "books" we are writing with our mouth:
Samaa Habib, in her incredible story, Face to Face with Jesus, about her life growing up Muslim in the Middle East and becoming a follower of Christ, started to realize the power of her words. She states, “What I had spoken had become reality, similar to how the Lord spoke all creation into being. It struck me that there is power in our tongues and that I should speak out in faith—blessings, not curses; life, not death.”
Precious Lord, in this world that can often be dark, help me to speak Your words that bring light, life, and hope. May my "book" reflect your glory.