The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 12:18 NIV
In the Bible, the book titled “Proverbs” is a source of many wise sayings. I recently completed a Bible reading challenge called PROvember. You can do it any month really. You just read a Proverb a day for a month and you will cover the 31 chapters in Proverbs. My favourite verse this time through the book was Proverbs 12:18.
As a husband and a parent, I have definitely delivered words described by both sides of this teaching. I know that I have had great moments of encouraging my wife Pam and building up my four kids as we raised them. I have cheered, advised, praised, verbally empathized and supported.
I also know that, at times, my family members have received careless, hurtful, and angry words from me. Personally, I have come to know that I especially need to be careful about using humour and sarcasm. I realize that I can cause hurt by saying things that I mean to be funny, but they actually cut the other person. Maybe you’re like me and can think of some ways your words can hurt others – even those closest to you.
Recently, a Bible College student in my extended family asked me a question for a paper he was working on. He asked, “How does your theology affect your personal life?” It’s a good question! Theology is the knowledge of, and study of God. The question combined with reading this Proverb caused me to reflect on my words.
What can help me be more careful about how I speak with my family and with others?
One thing that can help me is my belief in the theological truth that every person is created in the image of God and is, therefore, extremely valuable. On a good day, most family members would acknowledge that they love their family – or at least tolerate their family. The Bible’s teaching of each person’s great value can really shape your speech. Viewing people as an image-bearer of God is a deep truth that helps me speak better words.
A second theological idea that affects my words is the sacrifice Jesus offered by dying for every person’s sin – including mine. I have a relationship with God through Jesus! This means that every person is valuable enough to God that He made a way for them to be right with Him. People are so valuable! As I understand more about the grace God shows to me in Christ, I am inspired to speak to others in a building and positive way. People are valuable in Jesus’ sight, so they are important to me too.
A third, related truth is that if I have accepted God’s love and forgiveness, I am compelled to use my words to show that love and forgiveness to others! The Bible contains many other truths and instructions around how we speak to others. However, knowing that every person is created by God in His image, knowing that Jesus died for every person and knowing that I, personally, have been shown grace and forgiveness by God are powerful reasons for me to form my words to bring restoration, love and healing to others.
I can become less reckless with my words and grow in my abilities to speak life to my family!
How have your words been reckless at times? How can your family grow in using words more wisely?