A few years ago, we had a guest preacher in our church one Sunday morning. Several of his congregants also were there in support of their beloved pastor.
In the middle of his sermon, suddenly one of the visiting ladies lunged to her feet and began applauding. The members of our church were notoriously known to be a quiet bunch – or reverent, as they like to call it – during our worship services. So when others of that pastor’s flock quickly joined her enthusiastic response to what he had said, it certainly created shock waves that reverberated throughout our small auditorium.
Later, at the lunch held for the entire congregation, Andy found the lady and teasingly mentioned that, “No one ever claps when I preach!” To which she grinned and promptly responded, “Aw, Preacher, mebbe you’ve never said nuthin’ worth clappin’ for!” Thankfully Andy took the comment in good fun, just as she assured him that she meant it to be. (At a later sermon when Andy preached, she again led the crowd in an ovation.) But days afterward, it was still reverberating in his mind. ‘Do my sermons really say anything noteworthy to my listeners? Honestly, do my words make any difference in somebody’s life?’
Well, according to the Bible, words most certainly do make a difference – good or bad. In fact, it says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. Interpretation? What any person says – not just a preacher – has the power to give encouragement and love. But that same tongue can do just the opposite. It can be viciously aimed at a victim and effectively maim hopes and dreams. Wounding their spirit with discouragement, hate or mockery. Not exactly the way the Creator meant for anyone to use the tongue that He gave them.
Maybe you own an irritating, horrible version of what the world calls a sibling, one who loves to make you angry, or even hurt you. The automatic reaction is to take your own revenge on their body or their feelings.
But stop and think. Anything hurtful that you say is only going to make the situation worse. Because that brother or sister will definitely seek revenge and will probably stop at nothing to win the Sibling War.
Or, you know something has to be said to your employee, or that unruly child, or that friend, but how do you say it constructively? Before you let fly with your tongue and hurl out whatever is lurking on the edge of your brain, stop for just a few seconds and think. “Is what I want to say kind, and meant to create a good change? Or am I just venting my anger?
Better response? In Proverbs 15:1, the Bible says “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
May take a while to accomplish, but certainly worth it.