by Rick Warren — May 20, 2019
“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).
Sometimes our words are like a sledgehammer. We swing away without thinking, and suddenly we look around and realize a pile of relational rubble surrounds us. When you thoughtlessly sling your words around and tear people down, your relationships are going to suffer.
One reason we’re not constructive with our words is we don’t realize how powerful this tool is—our mouth and the words that God has given to us. We say things without thinking. And people remember them.
You, too, can still remember certain things people said to you in a careless way—even as far back as grade school or college or when you first started working. That’s how powerful words are. So when it comes to your mouth, think of it as a power tool and be extremely careful with it.
One time I went into my garage and grabbed a manual for a power saw. As I was reading through the directions, I was struck by how it related to the use of our mouths. The directions said:
- Know your power tool.
- Keep guards in place.
- Be careful around children.
- Store idle tools when not in use.
- Don’t overreach.
- Never use in an explosive atmosphere.
How can you use your mouth more carefully so you are using it to build relationships and not to tear people down?
- Stop excusing. Stop saying, “I didn’t really meant to say that” or “That’s just how I am before my first cup of coffee.” Realize that what you say impacts everybody around you.
- Talk less. We often get in trouble because we just don’t know when to shut up. If it’s a power tool, you shouldn’t have to use it as much, right?
- Listen more. If you listen more, you can better understand people’s needs.\
- Start building. Let your first thoughts be, “What does that person need?” “How can I use a word of encouragement to build him up?” “What can I say to make a difference in her life?”
Consider making this part of your morning prayers: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:14 NIV).