It’s a loud, deafening war of words out there and when I stand in the farm woods these days, looking up into the outstretched arms of trees, I have to wonder:
When a leaf falls in the woods, and there is actually someone to hear it, why does it sound so much like the quietness of grace?
It’s like all the trees of the woods are asking the people in the streets: How can you all sound alot more like grace?
Because: The way words are spoken matters to the One who is the Word, who is the Way.
What we say and how we say it matters, because we are the people who believe that is was the Word that created matter. Words create actual matter — for good or for evil –in the world.
Ours is the God who wields words — and by the Word of His mouth alone the universal black splits and cells divide and light sparks and mountains rise and oceans come thus far and no farther.
The breadth of this world was created by the breath of His Word (Genesis 1).
When God pulled on skin and came into this world, He came as the Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).
We walk through the woods, leaves crunching quietly underfoot, and what Jesus teaches in Luke 6:45 resonates quietly in the heart: “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
The tongue is the “tail” of the heart.
How your tongue wags always betrays the heart. The harsh, mocking, biting sin of the heart — or a heart so overflowing with grace that it spills out onto others.
What Jesus is saying here quietly interrupts every conversation:
You are your words.
No matter the jarring, a cup of fresh water can’t spill filthy water.
When you are upset, you upset what’s really in you.
“Cold words freeze people,” wrote the great philosopher and theologian, Pascal, “and hot words scorch them, and bitter words make them bitter, and wrathful words make them wrathful.
Kind words also produce their image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is. They smooth, and quiet, and comfort the hearer.”
God spoke the world into being. And there is a way in which our words speak our own worlds into being. Bitter, cynical, sarcastic words make our worlds just that — or grace-filled, kind words, can make the world just that.
Whose mouth tears down the neighbor (Prov. 11:19)?
Proverbs 11:9-13 offers that the tongue can be a very real tool of evil or of good in whole sphere of living: both personally and culturally.
Belittle not — or the soul becomes little (v. 12).
Only speak words that make souls stronger. Sometimes the way to show the greatest understanding is to let your tongue sit still (v. 12).
Only speak words that make souls stronger. Tongues are daggers that slash, or are dressing to bind together (v. 12).
Only speak words that make souls stronger. Words are either pro-life, bringing life — or words are anti-life, crushing life.
As we quietly walk through the farm woods, each step crunching through a carpet of leaves that have fallen with a sure and steady grace, you can hear the sound of it, beating steady in the hearts of those who follow the Word who spoke not a word of defense but laid His life down on a Tree:
Only speak words that make souls stronger.
~edited excerpt from of one of my devotional reflections contributed to the ESV Women’s Study Bible
Studying and working on the ESV Women’s Study Bible was truly a weighty privilege of a life-time, as each of us prayed to help women in all seasons of life pursue a deeper, transformational understanding of Scripture.
The ESV Women’s Study Bible is filled with 13,000+ study notes, 523,000 words of study note content, 350+ reflections on key passages, 15 articles on theological topics, explanation of the plan of salvation, beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Dana Tanamachi, 120 Bible character profiles, introductions and timelines for each Bible book, more than 80 maps and illustrations throughout, 80,000 cross-references and so much more!
Contributors include best-selling authors like Jen Wilkin, Lauren Chandler, Ann Voskamp, Trillia Newbell, Kristyn Getty, and many more.