Words, Words, Words!

Posted by admin in June 10th, 2010
Published in obedience, prayer, Uncategorized

Words. Can’t live with ‘em; can’t live without ‘em. Okay. I guess that’s not entirely true. We can live with ‘em…some of them. Not all of them. I’m thinking a lot about words right now ‘cause I’m preparing to teach a class on linguistic theory and well, there’s a whole lotta stuff about words in linguistic theory. Smile. Chuckle. (I crack myself up).

The tongue. Can’t live with it. Can’t live without it. I think you know where I’m going with this. All this linguistics stuff I’m grappling with says that language comes from two sources: language of the brain and language of the mind. But can there also be a language of the heart?

The Bible says that the eyes are the window to the soul (Matthew 6:22, The Message). If that’s true, then I believe the tongue is the window to the heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things…Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Understand it? No. See its ugliness? Yes. That’s where the tongue comes in: For whatever is in your heart determines what you say (Matthew 12:34, NLT). Maaaan. I wish that verse wasn’t in the Bible.

Words are a lot like toothpaste. Once they are out of the old tube, it’s impossible to get them back in there again. Unfortunately, words do a lot more harm than unused toothpaste! My words have bruised people, cut them, and even occasionally, I’ve knocked someone off their feet with my ugly, mean-spirited words. Words.

When I was a kid we had certain words that were banned in our house. For example, any derivative of the name of God: gosh, golly, gee, gee whiz, dad gummit (bad meaning; look it up). We also were not allowed to use derivatives for damn: darn, dang, dad blast it. But an even more important rule in our house was we were never allowed to say “I hate you,” “I hate your guts,” “I wish you were dead.”

My Mom’s philosophy behind banning all hate words was the death of my sister Denise. Whether this was good or bad parenting by today’s standard, I don’t know. My Mom’s scolding of us, if we used these words, was always the same, “Do you want that to be the last thing she heard?” “Do ya want that to be the last thing he remembers you saying?” And then it’d come, “What if you died tonight? What if he died tonight? Is that the last thing you want to have said? Really?”

No. It never was.

And so words, certain words, were banned from my Mother’s house. I remember the first time I said I hate you to someone. I was in my 30s and it felt sooooooo good. It shouldn’t have. I knew it was wrong, but somehow once I unleashed those words they got easier and easier to say. Say ‘em once; you say ‘em a hundred times. I just couldn’t stop myself after that.

Even now I find myself saying it about TV characters, or the mole in our back yard, or some weirdo driver on the road. Yes. We are to hate what is evil, but I think when I let the words “I hate…..” spew out of my mouth (and spew is the right verb here) then a piece of my heart comes flying out with it and it reveals to me (and others) what is really in there.

I think about Betsy ten Boom, Corrie’s sister. While they were in the concentration camp during WW II a cruel German woman guard beat Betsy and Corrie hated that woman. She hated her! While Betsy was recovering in the bunk, her body stricken with pain and bruised beyond recognition, she whispered to Corrie, “Don’t hate. Don’t hate Corrie. It’s never right to hate.”

It’s never right to hate. And it’s never right to say it. Never. Once we get in the habit of saying it about spinach, or broccoli, or snakes, or people we don’t know, then it becomes much easier to say it in arguments, and stressful situations and in times when we’re hurting. I say leave it off the vocabulary list altogether so that it doesn’t slip out of our mouths unexpectedly.

Words. I mean Jesus told us not to call people fools. Really Jesus? I can’t say “He’s an idiot?” But what if he really is an idiot? “…anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” Wow. That’s pretty serious stuff.

Why? Because you can’t call someone a fool and say those words in love. And anything we do outside of a love motivation is sin. Words and deeds must be focused and based in love—Jesus-kind-of-love. Love that is centered in God, in Jesus, in others, on our enemies. Jesus could call people fools because He operated in perfect love. We don’t. (Okay, Gandalf meant it in love when he said, “Flee you fools.” But that’s different).

And don’t get all semantic on me (Oh my! The linguistics stuff is really paying off). What if I call someone’s acts “foolish?” “Hey man, that was a foolish thing to do.” Well, I think that’s okay. But again our words are supposed to be coming from love.

Now in closing (everyone sighs a big relief) let me say a few “words” about that irritating chapter in James. Or better yet, I’ll just let it speak for itself.

James 3: 2-13 (Amplified)

2 For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], s/he is a fully developed character and a perfect person, able to control the whole body and to curb his/her entire nature.

3 If we set bits in the horses’ mouths to make them obey us, we can turn their whole bodies about.

4 Likewise, look at the ships: though they are so great and are driven by rough winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the helmsman determines.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze!

6 And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body….

7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea animal, can be tamed and has been tamed by human genius.

8 But the human tongue can be tamed by no one. It is a restless (undisciplined, irreconcilable) evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who were made in God’s likeness!

10 Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things, my brothers and sisters, ought not to be so.

11 Does a fountain send forth [simultaneously] from the same opening fresh water and bitter?

12 Can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine figs? Neither can a salt spring furnish fresh water.

13 Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let this person by noble living show forth [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom.

So I passionately pray, “Set a guard over my mouth O Lord and may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight,” (Psalm 141:3; Psalm 19:4). Peace.

6 users Responded In This Post

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407. pam said,
June 10th, 2010 at 9:31 am

good stuff….the reality is our flesh will feel hatred sometimes…so it’s good to acknowledge it and deal with it…pray it through. I lived for 21 years hating an abuser and thinking it was wrong to hate him…but it was killing me to not acknowledge it and deal with it. I love the thought your mom filled your mind with about what the last words someone might hear from us could be…good stuff.

408. grannieannie said,
June 10th, 2010 at 10:18 am


409. Texas cuzzin' said,
June 11th, 2010 at 8:24 am

I needed to hear this from you today. My dear SS teacher when I was in college ended every lesson with us praying, “Let the words . . . .”

Thanks for reminding me to continue to pray these words of the Psalm.

Love you and looking forward to seeing you in Texas.

410. brandat said,
June 12th, 2010 at 9:49 am

Inspiring! Your insight into the devastation of the tongue is so true. A daily battle for us all.

411. Texas sister said,
June 13th, 2010 at 10:35 am


On FB the other night I made an allusion to a bad word; I felt conviction immediately but chose to use it anyway for the sake of making others laugh, they did.
Our hearts are wicked, desperately wicked and I myself have proven it. I quenched the Holy Spirit of God for the sake of coarse jesting.
How easily I allowed a carnal heart to override my precious Rod & Staff just to amuse. Thank you Jesus for the Blood that washes white as snow.

412. admin said,
June 13th, 2010 at 12:08 pm

And He casts our sins into the deepest sea and as Corrie would say, “Posted a ‘No Fishing’ Sign!”

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