Below is a lesson from Paul Tripp’s outstanding book, “War of Words.” I return to it now and then to evaluate myself before I speak. Enjoy!
Words Have Significance
Words have significance, power and importance because the first person who ever spoke words was God. It is heart-stopping that every word that we have ever spoken will be judged by the one who spoke first. Therefore, all the talk in the world is related to God – either our words will bring God glory or will bring his just condemnation, because, our words are audible expressions of our hearts.
Before Sin, there was no communication struggle, no war of words. No arguments, no lies, no words of hatred, impatience, or retaliation. There was no yelling, no cursing, no condemnation, and no self-flattery. No words of self-defense, arrogance, envy, or fault-finding were ever uttered before sin. But that beautiful world of words is long gone.
“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man” (Matthew 15:18).
“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man” (Mark 7:21-23).
“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:35-37).
Jesus is saying that before any sinful action there is a word that is spoken from the heart. Here are some questions for Self-Examination of our Heart by listening to our Words:
1. Does your talk with others lead to biblical problem solving?
2. Does your talk have a “stand together” or a “me against you” posture?
3. Do your words encourage others to be open and honest about their thoughts and feelings?
4. Are you approachable and teachable or defensive and self-protective when talking with others?
5. Is your communication healthy in the principal relationships in your life? Parent-child, husband-wife, extended family, sibling relationships, employer-employee, friend-friend, body of Christ, neighbor-neighbor.
6. Does your talk encourage faith and personal spiritual growth in those around you?
7. Do you talk with others to develop relationships with them, or do you only talk to solve problems during times of trouble?
8. Do you speak humble and honest words of confession when you sin and words of sincere forgiveness when others sin against you?
9. Do your words reflect a willingness to serve others or a demand that they serve you?
10. As you face the struggles of talk, do you do so with recognition of the gospel – God’s forgiveness, his enabling grace, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit?