Proverbs 18:4 (the message)
Many words rush along like rivers in flood,
but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.
Proverbs 18:21 (the message)
Words kill, words give life;
they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.
I was talking briefly with a good friend last week about the difference in reacting and responding. Often we deal with people and situations with our emotions in the lead…a reaction. Responding involves dealing with a person or situation in a slow and thoughtful process…taking the time to let your emotions simmer down for a clearer understanding.
I thought about this as I read verse 4 of Proverbs 18 this morning. When we react with our emotions it’s like the rush of “rivers in flood.” I can speak candidly because I have had many, many words flow out of me like a river in my lifetime! I was a notoriously emotional “reactor” to people and circumstances. The idea of deep wisdom from my spirit leading my response sounded great but wasn’t my “personality.” I come from a strong stock of reactors! My DNA contains clear instructions for my brain and emotions to over react! Leave zero time for pondering and allowing wisdom to have a say! Well, because of Jesus my DNA is being reconstructed. There is no other explanation. There are times I still let my emotions take the lead but Jesus is truly coming along side to whisper in my ear…to change the drive and desire of my life to be “right” and prove myself at every turn, much of what drives the emotional reactor.
If you don’t see the crucial value of responding rather than reacting, check out verse 21: “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit – you choose.” Who among us would deny that words have wounded us in our lifetime? We each know how words spoken to us or over us in our childhoods damaged our self-esteem. We know how words in a marriage can maim and cut us. We know how the words of others, those that know us best as well as hardly at all, can take root in our minds and create fear and insecurity. Hopefully, we can also identify at least one person in our lives who spoke words that built us up, encouraged us and soothed our hearts. I pray that you have experienced that with Jesus and if not that you will today! The point is that words most certainly are poison or fruit. They edify or tear down. They build up or destroy. They ignite passion or they smother dreams. Yes, our words are powerful, however, we can’t acknowledge the power of words spoken to us and then deny the power of the words we speak.
As a mother, this is my bedrock. It’s so important to me that I hardly know how to write! Early childhood years are formative for discovering God the Creator and this Jesus who loves them so much. These early years are crucial in building a foundation for our children that is strong and healthy; a foundation in which God can build them, grow them, plant and water the purposes He has for them! We will never be perfect parents, but if our words (tones/attitudes) are tearing them down they will spend much of their lives recovering rather than discovering their true selves. Belive me, the only reason I dare to tackle the subject of words is because I know the effects of poisonous words…both hearing and speaking them. Truly, I believe we all do.
So, we all can identify with the effects of harsh words and attitudes we have met with in life. Let me give you the flip side, one we sadly don’t experience very often. About a year or so ago, God began to use someone in my life to speak words of life to me…words that proved to be fruitful. The Lord had placed a leader in my life at church, one who I easily could look to for an example of grace and a “God will provide” attitude. No matter what, every Saturday night as I came in to serve she would have a smile on her face. I fostered no suspicions that she lived a problem-free life, so this just gave me a new respect for her. In time, as God would have it, she began to see in me something I never would have seen. And honestly, something I don’t think anyone else in my life would have seen either! As she began to speak words of life to me and over me, I eventually believed them. What I understand is that she was seeing in me what God wanted her to see…what only He could see. God has used this wonderful woman to encourage me and build me up. In His timing, God used her to start reshaping what I could see of Him in myself. Until I could see and believe that it wasn’t too late for me, that God’s plans for me hadn’t reached their expiration date, I was paralyzed. Bottom line, God used this beloved leader to help change the station I had been listening to.
I have shared this with her once before. She wouldn’t know otherwise, because most of the time we let our words flow like a rushing river, poison or fruit, and then we go on our merry way. See, words are powerful. I’ll wager to say, because I have lived this way, many of you reading this post are paralyzed and stuck in broken mindsets because of words spoken to you. I pray as I write you will hear this: God is not finished with you. Man, God is just getting started! You are whatever He says you are! And once you can even begin to believe that you’ll probably be amazed to find out what He says! Maybe the words raining down on you in childhood set you up to believe you were a failure. Maybe the words you hear in your marriage lead you to believe you aren’t good enough. Maybe, I fear, the words you heard spoken in a church convinced you that God is just “hellfire and brimstone” and you’d better get your act together. Maybe you learned through words of gossip and malicious judgement in a church that it’s an hypocritical and unsafe place to be. Sadly, I know that can be true because churches are filled with human beings and sometimes not so much Holy Spirit.
Here is what I want to leave you with: God will always speak the truth to you. Sometimes that means we have to face things in ourself that we don’t want to face (like my pride yesterday!) but it’s always so He can build us up. Here we are at Christmas so consider…God, the Creator, got inside the body of little baby boy. He grew in that body for 33 years, speaking truth and healing lives, and then spent that body in death to end the sin-gap between us and Him. The truth that makes me smile is a question for you! Would a God that humbles Himself to death on a cross then tear down and destroy the prize for which He fought? That being…you?
People may, no they will, speak words that can take root in your heart and create strongholds of thinking and the destructive behaviors that result. And sometimes we are speaking those words. But I am a testimony of how words of life, God-words of healing and purpose, can become your new foundation for living. As God heals my heart and resets the station I hear playing in my own life, He begins to change the station I am setting for my own children. As I absorb and receive the love of Jesus, the life He was born to give, I grow more willing to let Him recreate my life…my dreams…and my own words.
No matter what else you’ve heard or hear today…Jesus loves you. God prizes you. This is the truth.