The words we use have the power to build others up or to put them down – to bring life or to bring them death. And this is not just about the actual words we use, but more about how we speak to each other. We must regularly step back and consider if our words are having their desired impact.
For instance, it might be clear we need to speak a word of correction to someone we love. And not saying anything would clearly be negligent in our duty to love. We have the responsibility of the watchman to speak and not remain silent.
At the same time, how we speak also matters. And when our words are overly harsh or aggressive, we’re just making noise and the other is not able to receive with clarity the love we’re trying to communicate.
In fact, in our zeal to correct others we might actually cause them to feel condemned and worthless. This is part of Paul’s warning to fathers – not to treat their children in such a way that just leads them to frustration. But there’s wisdom here for every relationship in which our words have the power to influence the life of another.
For example, do our words wash over our wife and bring out the best in her? This is not simply telling her what she wants to hear. And we might have to have many hard conversations. But what fruit is being produced by the words we use?
Do our words cause her to wilt and believe the lie that she’s not enough? Or are they kind and hopeful – allowing her the grace to grow into the fullness of her radiance?
We might be saying things that are true. But if our words are crushing her soul we need to find another way to speak this truth in love.
In the end, your words matter. And even when correction is needed, don’t let a careless approach cause you to wound the heart of the other. Use your words to bring out the best in others every time you speak.