October 21, 2019

Unkind Speech

Devotion for the Week...

"Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Is there any children's rhyme so full of wishful thinking as this one? Contrary to what many of us chanted at our childhood rivals, the power of our words to hurt other people seems limitless. Maybe that's why the Bible talks so much about what we say. James tells us to tame our tongues, Proverbs talks about the value of a gentle answer and Matthew records Jesus saying we will be judged for the words we spoke.

Then there's 1 Peter 2:1: "So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech." When I read this verse a couple of weeks ago, it just made me shake my head. Can you imagine what the world would look like if there were no unkind speech? This verse is directed at believers, of course, so let's narrow down our expectations - can you imagine what the world would look like if all Christians were done with unkind speech? It's pretty hard to imagine, isn't it?

To make it harder to root it all out of our lives, there are many varieties of unkind speech. There's the obvious, like calling people names or belittling their work or abilities. Most of us try to avoid that. But then there are the more insidious varieties, like gossip or judgmental comments like "I can't imagine why she..." Those are harder to 'be done with' because they often feel like normal conversation. It's simply habit to talk about other people, at least a little bit, especially when we feel we are making better choices than they are. There's no denying it falls into the category of unkind speech, though.

And then there are the things we say when we're angry or hurt. How easy is it to snap out something unkind when someone is pushing all of our buttons? How hard is it to remind ourselves to just breathe for a second before responding so our words don't bite?

Let's not forget, too, that much of our speech these days flows through our fingers rather than our mouths. I don't think God will give us a pass for the unkind things we've typed rather than said out loud. If a kindness meter were attached to our keyboards, what would it reveal about our typed speech?
Are our words good, helpful and encouraging | DevotedQuilter.com
Background quilt is my Cross Stitch wall quilt
I think I'm generally kind, but there's still plenty of room for improvement in my own speech. I went for a run when this devotion was half written and found myself making a judgmental comment along the way, which then made me laugh because it was so contrary to what I'd been writing earlier. Hopefully so I can continue to catch myself when those kinds of comments arise in the future. After all, being aware of a problem is the first step towards fixing it.

Here's the standard Paul gives us: "Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them" (Ephesians 4:29).

2 comments:

  1. This devotional goes so well with our Bible study lesson from this past week!
    Why do we seem to have no trouble saying negative things, but struggle to speak kind and uplifting words to one another? In our study, we also talked about what's in our hearts - and how that spills over into our speech. It's hard to praise if there's anger and hatred inside of us...

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  2. Oh! Yes! It's always wise to monitor our speech and as Jannette says that really involves sorting out what's in our hearts because what's in there comes out of our mouths.We are fortunate indeed to have the Holy Spirit to convict us and give us the strength to change.

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