I like to talk.
I like to talk about what’s happening in the world, my job, the news, or my wonderful boyfriend. When it comes down to it, I just really like to talk about anything. It’s almost as though I have a superpower of sorts that enables me to talk me into or out of a difficult situation. But, as Uncle Ben said in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
And having a voice is one of the greatest responsibilities any person can have.
As I recently chatted with my precious boyfriend, I caught myself negatively re-hashing something that happened or that I disagreed with. Usually, during conversations of the sort, he still listens, encourages, and redirects the topic…until he didn’t.
Recently, instead of humoring my fiery flame of negativity, he presented me with a challenge of sorts.
He said, “Try being positive, Hannah. There is enough negativity in the world. What kind of difference could you make if you spoke encouragement instead of bitterness and hate?”
When you’re a talker, sometimes encouragement such as this feels like an attack and warrants a reaction. I quickly sprung into action, claiming that if everyone else can have an opinion, I should be able to have and post my own. But after a couple of moments, I realized just because everyone else shares their problems online or contributes negativity to the world doesn’t mean I have to, or that it is my “right.”
If I do have to share my opinion, at the very least, I should be willing to communicate something – to encourage rather than tear down.
The fact is, Americans like to talk. Many of us are proud of our rights, and we want to use them as freely as possible. We like to make sure our opinions are heard and that they matter. If we didn’t feel that way, it’s almost guaranteed our social media pages would look different during seasons filled with strife.
But what I’ve recently learned is that we can be a light for the Lord through our words, opinions, and conversations.
So, why don’t we?
It’s because we’re prideful.
It’s because if “they” get to, so should we.
It’s because of my rights.
It’s because we forget that we’re in this world – not of it.
In James 3, the Lord reveals a mighty truth concerning a small but influential part of our body – our tongue. And though tiny, it holds great power and responsibility. This is important to remember throughout any significant decision, struggle, or temptation to gossip.
Our words matter.
It’s a simple message, but one so often forgotten during heated Facebook arguments or quick-witted posts. I’m not saying we shouldn’t voice our opinions, but how we do so must be considered. We are children of the Most High, and he deserves our respect, praise, and adoration. Through our love for Him, we have the power to lead unbelievers to Him. But how can that happen if we are continually spewing negativity in any and every direction possible?
“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 freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water” (James 3:9-12).
Our words reflect our hearts, and our hearts reflect our love for our Savior.
I’m not sure about you, but that is humbling to me. I see the news. I know my opinion. I have the freedom to fill up every social media page. However, whether or not I should is up to me.
We’re human, and we’re inclined to fight for what we believe in, regardless of those things. But during this difficult season, it’s important to remember our words matter. If our voices don’t align with that is pure, right, and holy, to whom we will be ministering…or representing?
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:7-8).
It’s shocking to think that the tongue, a small part of our body, can be used as a deadly poison. But when we speak without grace, love, and truth, we poison our witness and potentially push others away from Christ’s love.
I’m thankful that I like to talk, write, and read. It’s the reason for the many opinions I’ve formulated. However, without my sweet boyfriend’s loving words, I would be more focused on my views than using my comments for love and acceptance. Look within, focus on making a difference, and loving those as did Christ. I hope that you, too, realize how much your words matter.