‘Gentle words cause life and health…’ Proverbs 15:4 TLB
James writes, ‘If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.’ (James 1:26 NIV) The poet wrote, ‘Oh I say the things that I never should, just want to be heard or I never would. Talk on and on and know it’s wrong; the trouble is, my tongue’s too long.’ So how can you control your tongue’s negative propensity? Engage it positively. How? (1) Be an encourager! ‘Gentle words cause life and health.’ Your words can help a hopeless person keep on living and motivate a sick loved one to fight illness and become whole. Encouragers are God’s frontline against defeat, despair and depression! (2) Speak the truth in love. Saying what needs to be heard is often hard, but being a friend requires saying difficult things. ‘Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.’ (Proverbs 27:6 NLT) Truth spoken in love can release people from their delusions, misperceptions and inflexibility to live free, productive lives. (John 8:32) (3) Ask God for the right words. ‘The lips of the righteous bring forth what is acceptable…’ (Proverbs 10:32 NAS) How do you know what words the hearer will accept? Let God be your guide. (4) Make your words life-giving. ‘The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.’ (Proverbs 13:14 NIV) The people you meet need words that turn them from spiritual death to eternal life. So today, speak words of life and health.
‘…Are you in health, my brother?’ 2 Samuel 20:9 NKJV
Never forget, you’re not home yet. The story’s told of an old steamship that pulled into Southampton harbour and the passengers got off. Helium-filled balloons rose into the air and the crowd went wild as a young Hollywood starlet walked down the gangplank to be greeted by her family and friends. The last person off the ship was an elderly man who had spent more than fifty years of his life as a missionary in India. All his earthly possessions were in a tattered suitcase he carried by his side. After getting to his room in a cheap boarding house, he knelt by his bed and prayed: ‘Lord, I’ve served You all my life. I’ve sacrificed everything to tell others the good news of the Gospel and brought many to You. Yet there was no one to celebrate my arrival or welcome me home.’ As he knelt there the voice of God spoke to him softly and said, ‘Son, you’re not home yet!’ And redeemed child of God, neither are you! If God has blessed you with a nice house, thank Him and enjoy it. But don’t get too settled. At best, it’s only temporary accommodation. Paul thought often of Heaven: ‘For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.’ (Philippians 1:23-24 NKJV) God has something ‘far better’ in mind for you. A great preacher once said: ‘It is our main business in this world to secure an interest in the next.’