This verse has become my prayer each time I sit down to write. I carefully ponder what to say and how to say it in a way that breathes life and encouragement to those who hear. This is so very important.
You see, when our writings are just words on a page, with no consideration for those who will read it, we end up leaving a trail of hurt, anger, and disappointment behind. Just as words spoken verbally can cause harm, so can words hastily written on paper, through email, or by social media.
Sometimes we need to stop, and be still, and calm down before we speak or write. We need to take our issues to God before we jump into battle. We need to allow time for God to align our hearts with His goodness, to help us see the other person as He sees them, to realize that those unlovely people in our lives oftentimes do not know any better. Possibly even to remind us that we are sometimes the unlovely ones.
When I stick close to God, I find I am often able to forgive and move on without the need to voice my opinions or to defend myself. Other times when an issue must be addressed, it is wise for me to lean on God for the proper timing – and the proper words. To ask Him to prepare my heart, enabling me to focus on reconciliation rather than on what I deserve or don’t deserve. This is so hard, but it is possible with Jesus leading the way.
Have you ever been so aggravated with someone that you decide to “pray” for them in that tattle-telling kind of way? I hate to admit it, but yes, I’ve done it. I’ve taken my complaints to God and listed them all out, only to hear Him whisper back, “but what about you, child?” He calls to my memory the occasions when I’ve acted much the same way. Yet, I am forgiven, and I know I must forgive.
So rather than spewing ugly words back at those who have offended me, I start praying. I pray for myself. “God, how do I deal with this? What should I say? How do I show your love to this person?” Eventually, I begin to pray for them. “God, draw them closer to you. Help them to truly know Your love and blessing in their life.” And a funny thing happens, my heart begins to change.
Maybe not overnight, or even within a week or two, but over the course of time, my heart does change. It begins to love more, to forgive quicker. The meditations of my heart become more acceptable to God, not because of anything I have done, but because He is my strength, my Redeemer. Likewise, as my heart more closely resembles His, so will my words. I will choose them more carefully, not only in my writings, but in my daily conversations as well. And I will be quicker to ask forgiveness when my words depict a heart that is not so lovely, as it most certainly will.
Friends, may we commit to look past our tough exteriors and take a peek at what lies beneath. May our words to one another be affectionate, extending the grace we so desperately need. We’re all in this together. Let’s hold one another up, build one another up, and breathe life into one another with the words we choose.