Before bed time a few days ago, my nine-year-old son John told me for the first time that he wanted to go on a mission’s trip to Africa. My husband went last year with our church to a village our church body supports in Uganda. My heart filled with joy that John had a desire to venture to a world different than his own and experience the joy that both my husband and I have had visiting the beautiful continent at different times in our lives.
Then the next day, news headlines were filled with the derogatory remark about other countries which I’m sure you’re familiar with by now. This isn’t a post about our president, politics or the context of those words, but as I watched the writing on the screen, I felt a pit in my stomach.
I was hoping John wouldn’t see the headlines and ask questions about it. He hasn’t yet, but regardless, I want my kids to know why our words matter so much. I need the reminder too.
First, I’ll say we’re no perfect home or family. Words fly carelessly around the air at times unbridled and we have to harness them back in. As a mom of four with emotions and a strong-will, I’m reminded daily of my need for Jesus in controlling my tongue. We’re on training ground every, single day in our home. I fall short and need him desperately. I think of Psalm 141:3: Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Dear John, Rebekah, Hannah & Will, you must know this about your words:
The book of James dedicates time talking about the power of your tongue. Scripture says it’s a small member of your body yet boasts great things. Your tongue can even direct the course of your life like a rudder that turns a ship. Your words also have the potential to cause a forest fire of trouble by only one tiny match. Can you imagine that?
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. 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)
Words have the ability to pierce like a sword and wound unlike anything in this world. What springs forth from your lips matter because God’s word says so. Your words don’t go without consequence. If you want to live the good life, an abundant life full of blessing and peace, you must do what Scripture says and avoid evil.
If you want to see good days ahead, you must keep your tongue from evil and deceitful speech (1 Peter 3:10).
Your words mean something because they matter to God – for the sake of his name and others. They matter because when you carry and claim the name of Jesus, you represent him. Take seriously that others are made in his image and are to be valued and honored. When you fall short from doing the right thing, confess and turn away from your sin promptly.
God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created him (Gen 1:27).
Your words matter because God loves all ethnicities. God has a heart for all nations to know and love him just as he loves them. He can use your words to reach those far from him. Strife, lying, bullying, perverted speech, gossip, slander, and rage are not a part of God’s plan and won’t bring goodness and blessing in your life. Use your words to show compassion, kindness, understanding, and build up the heart of another.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Your words matter because they reveal the true condition of your heart. Your heart is desperately sick without a Savior. Jesus says that it’s not what goes into someone’s mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his mouth (Matt. 15:11). Be mindful of what’s really going on inside your heart (frustration, jealousy, anger, pride, etc.) and seek to deal with it before you speak.
Thankfully, your words also have the power of LIFE and the ability to crush lies.
Your words can build up, restore, renew, move others toward action, bring hope, heal wounds, rescue from sin, instill joy, and bring forth something that once did not exist. God formed creation into being with the very words from his mouth:
“Let there be light,” and there was light (Gen. 1:3).
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
“Will you forgive me?” are sometimes the only words you need to ask someone. The power of these four words have restored friendships, reconciled marriages, and brought happiness and peace to the playground once again.
Use your words for healing and not towards harm. Don’t let your words be hollow either – if something needs to be said for the good of another, say it. Follow Jesus as your ultimate example. Be children who speak LIFE and live it out by God’s strength working in and through you.
I love you,
** You’re welcome to use the letter portion of this post & change the names for your own children for your personal use.
Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is a regular contributor for Kirk Cameron’s site TheCourage and For the Family. She is also the author of Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.