According to Language Log, the average person speaks 13,500 words. 13,500. 13,500. Let’s really break this down – the average day is roughly 15 hours, that means you are speaking 900 words per hour. You really have an impact on people. I am not trying to say that to build you up and make you feel all good inside, I am saying that to show you that the words you speak really do matter.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
Proverbs 15:1 – “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
James 1:26 – “Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”
Proverbs 15:4 – “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
Proverbs 16:24 – “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.”
Matthew 15:11 – “What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
Proverbs 18:4 – “A person’s words can be life-giving water; words of true wisdom are as refreshing as a bubbling brook.”
Colossians 4:6 – “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
Proverbs 18:21 – “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
1 Peter 3:10 – “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.”
Ephesians 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Proverbs 10:19 – “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.”
Psalm 141:3 – ‘Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.”
This doesn’t even come to close to the amount of times scripture mentions the power of the tongue
The first words that come out of your mouth in the morning are directed toward your husband, wife, children or roommates. Every single morning – those are the people that hear you talk to them every day. You talk to the cashier at the grocery store. You thank the man that made your coffee this morning at Starbucks. You are short and maybe even rude to the waitress that isn’t waiting on your table the way you expect her to. You are in a bad mood when you get home from work and choose to walk past your roommates without saying a word to them, or even worse, you’re harsh with them. Your child throws there 36th temper tantrum today, and so yelling is how you choose to handle the situation. The list could go on you – you have dozens up dozens of interactions per day. Some of these interactions may be with the same people, while others are with people you may never see again. Either way, they are impacted by the words that you speak. It’s insane to me how careless we are with our words. In one moment, I tell my roommates how much I appreciate them, and literally 10 minutes later, I am speaking quite rudely to them because there are dishes in the sink.
The claim you make as a Christ follower is evident in the words you speak. John 14:15 – “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Scripture is pretty cut and dry – if you make the claim that you love the Lord, and Jesus died on the cross for your sins, those 13 Bible verses above will really resonate with your soul. Your desire with the stranger you pass on the sidewalk, your husband, or your roommate will be to speak words of encouragement because that is what glorifies the Lord. If this is not your desire, because on most days it probably won’t be because of how prone to selfishness we are – beg the Lord for the desire to glorify Him in your speech. Don’t believe the lie that it’s just ‘a’ word. You speak 13,500 a day. Words matter. People are affected by them.
The very next word that comes out of your mouth will either glorify the Lord or not, lead you to sin or not, encourage whose listening or not, or share the gospel or not. I challenge you to mediate on those Bible verses above, ask the Holy Spirit to convict you and give you a gentle spirit. Be really careful with your words this week. You are an image bearer of the Creator of the universe. He has given you standards for speech.
For more on this topic, go watch Paul David Tripps sermon ‘War of Words: Getting to the Heart for God’s Sake’