There are so many stories. They pile up and run over and leave aching sorrow behind. And sometimes I think the hurt that grieves God the most is that which is inflicted by believers. We speak so rashly, words slashing and leaving bloodied hearts behind.
We’re broken human beings, but unfortunately, some of us forget that truth and try to pretend like we’re whole. And all those ragged edges are wounding those around us.
As Christians, we need to watch our words. Unless you have walked a particular road, take extra care to pour grace over every syllable that leaves your mouth or is published on Facebook or your blog.
The two strongest speakers and leaders in the New Testament were Peter and Paul. I’ve heard “authoritative” actions excused by the example of these apostles. But, wait! What example is that? Oh, right — one of brokenness.
Peter denied Jesus.
This wasn’t a little white lie, folks. This was blatant, save-myself, I-don’t-care-about-anyone-but-me, sin. And everyone knew it. In fact, the story of his denial made it into every. single. gospel.
This was no “pillar of virtue”. This was a sinner, redeemed and reinstated by a gracious loving God.
And Paul! Should we speak of Paul? The one who killed Christians, fought against the cause of Christ, and only decided to follow God after he was struck with blindness?!
Paul was no pillar of righteousness either. In fact, he defines himself as the “chiefest of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).
These men only spoke with boldness after their broken, pitiful emptiness was known by all.
They were not speaking from their own strength because everyone knew that they were empty and weak except for Christ in them.
I speak loudly about infertility. I lay out blatant, strong statements about facing it with grace. Offering grace to others. Embracing pain. I encourage women to trust in a God who redeems because I am broken and my God has poured grace into my brokenness.
Other issues that people face? I try to listen hard. I pray grace into them and on them.
Young ones (how I wish I could go back to my teen years and pay attention to this!), until you have walked through sorrow, keep your words whisper-soft. Or maybe even softer.
Study. Read the Word. Think you know the answer. But keep a tight reign on your tongue and your pen (or laptop or whatever). Know-it-all comments will not only be rejected by others, they will also wound them.
We all have our journeys through pain. If you haven’t experienced one, you will. And God will break things in you and grow things in you and heal things in you. There will be something, someday, that you will be able to speak about with authority.
I have a friend who knows about the death of a child. I have a friend who understands the pain of divorce. I have friends who understand betrayal. A friend who has buried a parent. A friend who has witnessed murder. I have a friend who has been rejected and rejected and rejected. I have a friend who committed adultery.
The list goes on.
They are people who know the pain, know the grace, know the holy justice of a loving God. And they can speak, boldly. But the rest of us? We must whisper softly. Acknowledge our own lack of understanding. Acknowledge that God is the one who knows and understands, and we do not.
It is Christ in us that gives us the ability to walk beside a friend with empathy. The moment you begin to walk in your own strength, your own understanding, you are in danger of bearing a false witness of Jesus Christ.
Our words should be seasoned with grace and sometimes they should not even be spoken.
Love is the key in grace. Love is the key in everything. Not human love, but God’s love. The kind that calls us into a deeper relationship with Christ.
If your words are pushing others away from the cross of Christ, it may be time to take a deeper look at your own spiritual condition.
Our purpose in life is to bring glory to God and to encourage others to bring glory to Him as well.
Sometimes we will be misunderstand, slandered, and misused. Sometimes our words will be twisted and our integrity attacked. Sometimes we will mess up and speak words that glorify self instead of God.
This is the hard truth.
But if we walk in humbleness, in a desire to see God glorified, in a state of submission to Jesus Christ, our words will be befitting a child of God. They will not wound but instead will heal.
What have you learned in your Christian journey about the words you speak?
Photography: JenniMarie Photography
Originally Published in 2013