Be Still Know
Psalm 36:3 NLT
Everything they say is crooked and deceitful. They refuse to act wisely or do good.
I discovered at a young age that words could inflict untold damage. Consequently I quickly developed for myself a thick skin to repel words of criticism, taunts and insults. I concentrated upon being quickest with a twisted verbal response to penetrate below the defences of others. My tongue became both my greatest asset and my greatest liability. Able to think quickly on my feet, I fired out fine-sounding phrases that cut down those around me.
The fruit of this, and something I have come to repent of at leisure, is that I not only lost the trust and affection of those I craved it from, I also created within my head a negative, and often cynical mindset. Consequently, my glass was mostly half-empty and I was afflicted by comparing myself with others.
Skills developed at school as part of my defence mechanism, which initially appeared to offer me a fast track to success, in time became both a burden and a negative influence upon my development. Rather than speaking creative words of encouragement, my words were loaded with mischief and deceit. My communication implied that I was on the level and honest, but this disguised my ulterior motive; to manipulate the situation for my advantage.
It has taken years of reflection and taking time with God to identify this deceit and then to shed its skin. I now at least recognise my internal driver to speak ill of people and can therefore take that knowledge and build a different style of communication. This I practically do daily, yet must confess that I can still think some dreadful thoughts. Learning to think before I speak has not only changed the substance of my communication, it’s also developed a whole new approach towards people and situations. At the same time, my inner insecurity and paranoia has, if not disappeared completely, been revealed so that I can choose to manage it effectively. Today I like other people and I like myself, and experience a far greater peace in the interaction with others I encounter.
QUESTION: When do you use words well, and how do you use them badly?
PRAYER: Lord, you said the tongue can be hard to tame. Help me use my words for blessing others. Do you mean in James 3? This wasn’t strictly Jesus speaking.