With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3: 9–12 NIV)
Out of sheer boredom and for entertainment’s sake, our crew and I have names for many of our tools.
The tall wooden ladder is appropriately named Woody, the little blue pry bar is called Shorty, and the green circular saw is Mean-Green (he’s kind of temperamental). I even have a name for my favorite hammer—Sally. Sally’s grip fits my hand perfectly, she is light enough that my un-muscled biceps can wield her effectively, and her claws pull nails as if they are in butter. I love my hammer and get pretty upset if she’s not where she’s supposed to be—in my toolbelt.
The truth is, without my hammer I couldn’t build. Hammers are essential to construction. They can be used positively to secure the fasteners, and they can also be used for demolition. The words we speak are the “hammers” we use in spiritual remodeling. These “hammers” should only be used to build the relationships in our lives—with God and man. Sometimes, though, we use them to demolish and destroy. Too many times we use our words like destructive sledgehammers. In one breath we’re praising God, but in the next we’re cutting down our children or spouse—or anybody who frustrates us.
The careless use of angry words has been a struggle for me in the past.
When I was frustrated, my words became hammers of destruction, injuring whoever was near, usually the people I love the most. How sad!
This problem plagued me for years, and I felt powerless to fix it. But one day, as I asked the Holy Spirit to help me tame my sinfully destructive tongue, Father God showed me a simple truth. I sensed Him saying, The way you speak to Me is the same way you should speak to others. You cannot build your relationship with Me without building it in the same manner with others. Immediately I remembered the parable in Matthew 25:40, where Christ says whatever we do to the least of these, we do to Him.
I was stunned—and deeply convicted. I repented and made a conscious decision to be aware of my every word: What am I saying? Why am I saying it? There is something eye-opening about consciously listening to myself speak. Sometimes it isn’t a nice revelation, but I’m glad for it nevertheless, because through it I gained victory over my unruly tongue.
Loving God and loving others go hand in hand. Jesus said the two greatest commandments are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30–31 NIV).
Jesus never used His words to destroy. He always used them in love to teach others, to instruct, and sometimes even to confront bad attitudes. But even when confronting someone, His motive was always complete love. And because of His words, the world is changed for the better. His words brought life and light to the earth. His words show us how to get to Father and how to please Him. Jesus used His spiritual hammer wisely—for construction, not destruction. Most importantly, He used His words to show God how much He loved Him.
As His disciples, we must follow His perfect example and be like Him in every area of life—especially with our words to God and our fellow man.
Final Thoughts and Questions
• Do I wisely use my words to bless and build? Do I ever use words like a destructive sledgehammer, hurting or manipulating those who are near? Why?
• When I fellowship with God, what words do I use? Do I use the same kind of words when I fellowship with others—my family and those close to me?
Father, I want to show You today how much I love You by using my words to build up others, not destroy them. Help me to bless You and others with my words. Help me to be a good spiritual remodeler today. Amen.