“Let no foul or polluting language…[ever] come out of your mouth.” (Ephesians 4:29 AMPC)
Friend to Friend
Remember when that 1,200 miles of Alaskan shoreline was covered with black slimy crude oil by the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Eleven million gallons of crude oil spilled into the Prince William Sound and disrupted the ecological balance of nature. More than 1,000 bodies of once-bustling sea otters were littering the coast, and more than 100,000 grounded birds were gasping for air. Many of its most beautiful inhabitants, including 150 bald eagles, were killed. The once glacier-fed waters teeming with life became an oily death trap.
Just as toxins in nuclear waste facilities, city dumps, and industrial accidents wreak havoc on the environment, toxic words cause destruction to the hearts and souls of the people. Paul wrote, “Let no foul or polluting language…[ever] come out of your mouth” (Ephesians 4:29 AMPC). Many times, the words we speak pollute the hearts of the hearer. Can we clean up the mess and repair the damage? Absolutely! We can choose to clean up the verbal pollutants and break the patterns of toxic words.
Think of our words on a pendulum that swings between those two points. However, I don’t want to be a powerless woman who vacillates between the two depending on what mood I’m in on any given day. I want to be a woman who is intentional—who guards her words with the God-given power of the Holy Spirit. And I’m sure you do too.
James wrote, “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by human beings, but no one can tame the tongue” (James 3:7 tniv). That’s the bad news. Now, here’s the good news. While no human being can tame the tongue…God can. It may be impossible for James, and for you and for me, but it is not impossible for God. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” God asked Abraham after announcing that Sarah’s 90-year-old body was going to bear a child (Genesis 18:14).
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity who enables us to do all that God has called us to do. He gives us the power to change!
Jesus explained to the disciples: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in
Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit as Jesus had instructed.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly, a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them (Acts 2:1-4).
Isn’t it interesting that the first manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit was words and the first visual manifestation was tongues of fire? The disciples were able to speak in the various languages of the men and women who were visiting Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost. The travelers heard the gospel in their own languages! Yes, that was astonishing. But even more amazing was the courage that arose in the cowardly disciples.
Just a short time before Pentecost, Peter had been so afraid that he denied he even knew who Jesus was. A mere servant girl’s question had Peter shaking in his sandaled feet and swearing he was no friend of Jesus. But after being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd with such a mighty sermon that 3000 men and women accepted Jesus as their Savior and were baptized. That’s what the Holy Spirit can do for timid souls who believe. He can transform a cursing tongue into a confessing tongue.
It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to control this little muscle that rests between our teeth. However, change requires cooperation. We must work in tandem with the Holy Spirit to rein in this feisty force. The Holy Spirit gives us the power, but our responsibility is to put God-given principles into practice.
You and I have that power. It’s up to us to access it. Remember, the power of the Holy Spirit can do more on our worst days than we can do on our best days. We would be foolish to think that we could control our tongues in our own strength. I’m so glad we don’t have to.
Father, I don’t want to pollute others’ hearts with negative words that bring them down. Help me to be an encourager who speaks words of life to those around me. I ask that the Holy Spirit empower me to control my tongue and guard my mouth.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read James chapter 1 in your Bible. To what does James compare the tongue?
How do each of those examples show the power of our words?
What is Jesus called in John 1:1?
What does that say to you about the importance of words?
More from the Girlfriends
Sharon’s re-released and updated version of her best-selling book and Bible study guide, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others are hot off the press. They include new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Perfect for your women’s ministry’s next Bible study!
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit