Journalling is one of my favourite things to do. Over the years it has helped me express, clarify and release thoughts and feelings – kind of like a good friend who simply sits and listens rather than seeks to provide an answer or opinion.
Recently, I was looking back over some of the journal entries I have made over the past few years. Alongside the rants, laments and joys that accompany the majority of pages, what has struck me is the amount of space given to some of things people have spoken into my life.
Words of comfort. Words of encouragement. Words of prophecy. Words of correction. Words of direction. Words of love.
Timely words, too – much like the gulping down of a glass of water after a strenuous run in the sun.
I am so thankful that people – friends, family, strangers, teachers, leaders – have taken time out to speak these words. They saw something that I needed to hear and in doing so have communicated something of God’s heart to me.
Proverbs 12:18 says this:
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing”
What is striking about this verse is the imagery used to convey the contrasting effect that words can have on our lives. On the one hand, an abrupt word of hatred can usher in an onslaught of self-doubt, whereas a word of encouragement can instil a confidence that had for years been lost.
You get the feeling that the words used in this short passage were not merely theoretical. They were borne out of experience.
Whether we realise it or not, our tongue holds a lot of power – something that was not lost on James in his letter in the New Testament. I don’t want the reality of this to be lost on me. What I say – or don’t say for that matter – makes a difference. Just as people offered words to me that have brought healing from insecurity, discomfort, rebellion, doubt, broken relationships, frustration and pain, I want to speak words that encourage, comfort and helpfully guide, as opposed to words that seek to demean, accuse and discourage.
In one of the Servant Songs in the book of Isaiah, we are told that the Servant (aka Jesus), day after day, sought to listen to God and hear a word that people needed to hear:
“The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructive tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back” (Isaiah 50:4-5).
I need to open my ears and listen. And after listening, I must not draw back.
If I do this, I can speak words that bring healing, not words that recklessly pierce like a sword.
Words that come from the loving heart of the Father.