“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” — Matthew 12:35-36, NIV
Words have an impact on us and those around us every single day. This means each day we are confronted with a choice: how do we want to use our words? As Christians, we know words are much more than a form of communication. They can be a meaningful tool and a way to share the light of Christ in our lives, or a damaging blow to others and ourselves.
For this reason, it is extremely important to understand how to choose your words wisely. It is easy to use words but impossible to take them back. Sometimes, we only have one chance or moment to choose our words. The results can be beautiful or catastrophic.
In This Weekly Devotional:
What the Heart Is Full of
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”—Luke 6:45
What is your heart full of? Are there any patterns in particular that you notice? Take a moment a really think about it. What comes to mind?
The Bible gives us one way we can tell what our hearts are full of. Jesus says, “the mouth speaks what the heart is full of,” (Luke 6:45). Now look back on your answers to the previous questions. Do your words align with them? If not, is there something else that could be taking up room in your heart?
Perhaps for some of us we see a pattern or theme in our words or comments. Maybe we struggle with fear or anger or bitterness. On the other hand, maybe our words are hopeful or encouraging or thoughtful.
When we want to choose our words wisely, we need to start by looking at our heart and examining it. It is there where we can find the root to our words.
Unwholesome or Beneficial?
“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, NIV
When we are examining our words and hearts, we must gauge whether our words are unwholesome or beneficial. The best way to do this is by turning to the Bible, our source of truth to see what it has to say about the difference between beneficial words and unwholesome talk.
Beneficial Words: Sweet to the Soul
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” — Proverbs 16:24
Ephesians 4:29 tells us that beneficial talk builds others up. Proverbs 16:24 tells us gracious words are a honeycomb. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” These are just a few of the many verses we can find relating to our words in the Bible.
So, when we are examining if our words are beneficial, we need to take a look at their purpose. Are we honoring and bringing thanks and glory to God? Are we benefiting others? Are we being gracious and loving with what we say?
If the answer is no, is our talk unwholesome? What is the purpose for our words?
Of course, we have average conversations all the time that are not clearly in either category. From what kind of food to buy at the store to when to plan an event, we frequently have ordinary everyday conversations. However, even in these conversations we can choose to honor God and others.
For instance, we can choose to encourage others when they are talking about a hard situation instead of comparing or feeding the negativity. Although this is an ordinary conversation, our perspective on it can help us choose our words wisely.
“But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” — Colossians 3:8, NIV
How do we know if unwholesome talk is coming out of our mouths? If the words are coming from a place of anger or pride or fear, they could be unwholesome. If our words are not honoring to God, we should not be saying them. If our words are damaging to others, we should reexamine our intention and our hearts.
There is no set of guidelines that sorts every possible word or phrase into beneficial or unwholesome categories. That is where we must depend on Scripture and the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the right hearts and words that are needed.
Being Slow to Speak: The Wisdom in Waiting
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” — James 1:19, NIV
At times, our strongest response is a wordless one. Our instinct may to be to respond immediately to get our thoughts out there, whether it be verbal or through a message. However, the Word of God tells us the strength in being slow to speak and quick to listen. Are we always filling in the silences? Do we prioritize our thoughts and opinions over those of others? Do we hastily jump to our next phrase?
Solomon wrote “Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues,” (Proverbs 17:28, NIV). Our words, or lack thereof, say a lot about us. It is important that we take the time to consider before we speak and really listen.
Grand Canyon University (GCU) has a Christian identity and a rich history. GCU offers chapel services, life groups and outreach opportunities to help students grow spiritually. To learn more about joining the GCU community, fill out the form at the top of your page.
Approved by the local outreach ministry coordinator of the Office of Spiritual Life on Feb. 23, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.