Following on from Al's wonderful wisdom on the topic of gossip (Part I and Part II) last week, Katie is writing more about the power of words for us today - as we explore how words can be used to bring life, to encourage, and to point our friends to the hope we have. This is a hugely inspiring post, full of the ways in which the Bible refers to the importance of words, and the identity of our hearts. We hope it challenges you to be girls that encourage, bring life, and speak truth!
I love looking for themes in the Bible. Once you start searching, they pop up everywhere! Recently, I’ve taken the theme of Words. I’ve rummaged through different books for what God says, and how he uses, words.
This means I realise my post today only scratches the surface on the topic, so I encourage you to pick up a highlighter pen and find other ways God speaks to us about words.
Words are powerful.
"Let there be light!” boomed at the dawn of creation.
With “Little girl, get up!” Jesus brought the dead to life.
"I do” will join two people together for the rest of their lives.
And forget the sticks and stones, words can hurt!
So I’ve woken up, and am all ears, as I begin to truly value words: to realise the importance and potential for both good and bad.
Paul tells us to “Let everything [we] say be good and helpful, so that [our] words will be an encouragement to all who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29).
I want my words to sound like that! I want to be known as someone who’s words build people up.
Returning to Matthew 12, as in Al's post last week - "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”.
Each of our words are rooted in our hearts. In order to speak life-giving words, our hearts must be healthy. Jesus makes it unquestionably clear that we can not dismiss words spat out in the heat of the moment.
"Our casual words reveal something deeper. What really matters is the state of our hearts.” (NT Wright).
It is imperative that we have a healthy heart, if we want to speak words of life and encouragement.
Proverbs 4:23 says"Guard your heart above all else for it determines the way you live”.
Here are two main ways we can ensure our hearts keep healthy and pure, like fruitful soil from which the words of our mouth grow.
1. Spending time with Jesus.
To become more like him means sharing life with him. Reading his Word, meditating on it and on who he is, listening to his voice and promptings.
As we give more and more of our lives to our King Jesus and to loving the words he speaks in the Bible, the Holy Spirit meets us and works on our hearts, and we become more like him. And if you think about it practically, reading and knowing the words of Jesus, what he spoke to the people he encountered, forms our example.
2. Being secure in our identity.
Often, the words we are not proud of spark from insecurities. These insecurities are found in the parts of our heart that are still orphan, clinging onto independence rather than surrender and sonship. They can also come from words, lies, which have been spoken over us.
Words, now so engrained in our pattern of thinking, we do not question or even notice them on a daily occurrence. Insecurities come from not letting Jesus drench every part of us with the knowledge of who, and whose, we are.
I’ll give an example to make this clearer. An insecurity: “If I look attractive, this group of people will accept me, which makes me significant”.
This can manifest itself in words such as “Oh my word, look at her” or “I look so fat today”. Discontentment with appearance, intelligence, the group of people we spend time with, or the quest for significance, are issues of the heart from which words of discouragement and bitterness can overflow.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies declares that we are significant because we are united with Christ (Ephesians 1:4).
Expose this insecurity to the knowledge that we are now children, (Romans 8:15) and friends of God (John 15:15), we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), and we are placed exactly where God wants us to be (Proverbs 16:9, Esther 4:14).
A heart firmly rooted, washed in truth, and continually meditating on its real identity, is a healthy heart. We can not do this in our own strength, but with the Holy Spirit.
The words that overflow from a heart saved by grace are words that are higher, that are encouraging, that shout and sing praise and thanks to God, words of contentment and joy. This is not legalistic, we have not been given a set phrase book.
An indicator of the work we are letting Jesus do in our hearts now we are part of his family, are the words we speak.
And let’s rejoice in God’s grace. Even though we daily mess up in the words we speak, when we return to Jesus, his arms are open wide.
For “God saved us by his grace when we believed. We can not take credit for this, it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8.
So let's once again make the words of the psalmist our prayer this week:
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
Originally from Essex, but newly a resident of Ipswich, Katie is going into her third year at Durham where she's involved in Bethshan church, Hatfield college and the CU. She loves adventure and dreaming big - with God all things are possible! Katie is passionate about working with girls and being rooted in identity in Christ. She is daily overwhelmed and thankful for the people God has put in her life.