Today I am so excited to introduce you to a sweet friend of mine, Meredith Carr. Mere and I “met” through our blogging training community, COMPEL training. I asked her to share with me her thoughts and feelings on what it means to live life to be a blessing to others. Thank you, Meredith, for blessing us with your words today.
The Power of Life & Death
Meredith Houston Carr
Recently, a friend of mine shared on Facebook her victorious parenting news: her daughter was finally learning to use the potty, and her newborn son slept a solid stretch of hours through the night. As a mom to little ones myself, I fully understood her joy and found myself clapping right alongside her.
However, in the midst of all the positive comments came that dreaded post from a “Debbie Downer.” In no uncertain terms, this person reminded my friend that her newborn’s restful night could very well be a fluke, so don’t get used to it. Oh, and one potty success doesn’t mean her daughter’s “got it,” as many times kids will have a success and then revert, etc. etc. etc.
You could almost smell the earthy scent of water hitting the pavement as this commenter rained on my friend’s parade. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one reading her comment and thinking, really? Was it really necessary to say that?
And while a comment on social media may seem innocuous, I think we all know just how much someone’s words can hurt. In the midst of dozens of positive comments, just one unkind, insensitive, or negative word can drag us down all day, rattling around in our brains like a pesky pebble in a shoe.
Rudyard Kipling famously said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind,” and I think we’d all agree.
Indeed, throughout the Old and New Testaments, God’s Word speaks extensively of the power our words possess—power to both harm and bless.
In particular, the book of James also speaks at length about the tongue and its power:
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell … It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be (James 3:6, 8-10 NIV).
Ouch. Kind of puts a clear end to the childhood maxim of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” And in our highly virtual and social media-obsessed world, we know this sing-song saying to be undeniably false.
But as dangerous and destructive as the tongue can be, it equally has the power to dole out blessings on the lives of others. Proverbs 18:21 tells us:
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (NIV).
It’s easy to focus on the death part of this verse—but what an amazing truth that we can use our tongues to bring life to others!
So, just how can we wield our words for the good of others?
1. Best Recognize
First, we must recognize our powerlessness in reigning in our tongues and our great need for the power of the Holy Spirit. As James tells us, “no man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8 NIV).
On our own, we can have self-control to a point—but ultimately, if we’re to use our words as a means of blessing others, we must turn our tongues over to the One who created them—and the only One who is able to imbue us with the ability to speak life rather than death.
2. Choose Wisely
With the power of the Holy Spirit guiding and directing us, we are then equipped to choose life in every word we speak, type, or write. Sometimes, this requires “hard obedience,” as I call it—hard, because everything in you wants to scream out something you know isn’t life giving, and it takes every ounce of your will and God’s power to bite your tongue!
As in everything, we must let Jesus be our example—no matter what type of person or people group with which He interacted, Jesus always used His words to give life. Even when He had to speak difficult truth, He spoke it with love and respect.
We must go and do likewise.
3. Spread the Love Today
Lastly, I’ll end with a little challenge, since faith without action is dead (see James 2:17). Today, think of one person you can encourage and bless with your words. I’m sure all of us can think of a friend or family member or neighbor who could use an uplifting word. Today, take the time to send that text, e-mail, or e-card. Better yet, drop a handwritten note in the mail. Pick up the phone and tell someone how thankful you are for her. How much he means to you. Let God’s Spirit guide you as you pour out words of blessing on another’s life.
Let’s recognize the incredible power of our words and invite Jesus into them. In obedience, let’s choose life each time we open our mouths or type on our phones and computers. And let’s commit to using tools like social media for the good of others, every chance we get.
You never know how God will use your words to bless someone’s life and bring the love of Jesus down from Heaven to Earth.
Meredith Carr is a Georgia Peach but now calls the hills of Northern California home, where she lives with her husband, energetic son and precocious daughter, and two crazy Chihuahuas. An attorney in her former life, she now enjoys the thrilling and slightly crazy stay-at-home mom life. You can find her writing (semi) regularly during naptime and in between loads of laundry at www.meredithhcarr.com.