“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Words can cause so much damage…deep wounds that affect a person’s entire outlook on life or view of themselves. Hurt that runs so deep, they don’t know how to get past it. They may not even know the root cause of their pain, because words have inflicted so many blows they no longer recall when it started.
What hope is found here, that words can also bring healing. We are not helpless in the face of so much brokenness. If we will look outside of ourselves, ever-mindful of our words and tone and actions, we can bring healing even if we are unaware of the damage hidden beneath a mask or a heavily guarded heart.
James 3:17 tells us, “the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” The characteristics of this wisdom—not wisdom from human intellect or reason, but wisdom from our God of compassion and mercy—should be evident in our speech. At all times.
I’m reminded of Colossians 3:12-15, which paints a picture of how our life in Christ is to look: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”
As our relationship with Christ deepens, as we draw near to Him, meditate on His Word, and listen for His voice, our hearts are continually being changed to reflect His character. Darkness is driven out. Selfishness, jealousy, callousness—they have no place in a heart being formed into the image of our Lord. Our hearts of stone are transformed into flesh, displaying compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, and love. When the peace of Christ is ruling in our heart, that peace translates into our words.
It might seem like a heavy responsibility, that words can either inflict damage or bring healing. But if our heart is being formed into the image of Christ, shining with His glorious character and displaying those beautiful characteristics that are His, it will show in our conversations. Wisdom doesn’t come from within ourselves—it comes from our God. Our God who knows all things and sees all things, our God of kindness and wisdom and grace. So we look to Him, we grow closer to Him, we slow ourselves down and listen, and His Spirit guides us in the words to speak.
Today, as we go about our day-to-day tasks, interacting with family and friends, co-workers and strangers, may we fix our eyes on Christ and let His peace rule in our hearts. May we look outside of ourselves and seek to allow His healing power and grace to flow through our every word. It may require a laying down of pride, a choice to ignore a rude or cutting remark, but let love reign in your speech. God will take care of the rest. And perhaps, as we lay down our pride and respond in the grace and strength of our Lord, that healing power will not only apply to those who hear our words…perhaps it will apply to our own heart as well.
“The Lord GOD has given me
the tongue of those who are taught,
that I may know how to sustain with a word
him who is weary.
Morning by morning he awakens;
he awakens my ear
to hear as those who are taught.
The Lord GOD has opened my ear,
and I was not rebellious;
I turned not backward.
I gave my back to those who strike,
and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard;
I hid not my face
from disgrace or spitting.
But the Lord GOD helps me;
therefore I have not been disgraced;
therefore I have set my face like a flint,
and I know that I shall not be put to shame.”