One of the consistent themes in Proverbs is the power of our words. It is easy to operate unaware of the impact of what we say, but in doing so we risk causing serious damage to others. Proverbs 12:18 sounds a warning to us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (The New International Version) Another translation puts it this way, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, But the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (New American Standard Version)
Both paint a graphic picture of the damage our words can do, whether we intend it or not. God wants you and me to be diligent and careful so that what we say (and how we say it) is truly good and beneficial to others. We have all seen how words can do serious harm like mean-spirited barbs that are designed to silence those who disagree, or even put-downs that are excused by saying “I was just joking!”. Most of us remember how it felt to receive words like these years, and even decades, after the delivery.
Let’s work to be God’s partners in using our words to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) so that others are blessed and benefit from what we say, and so that our father is proud of us! “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)