Glorifying God with Our Words

June 13, 2024


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Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.—Psalm 19:14

The story has been told of a woman who did not like to hear the things her pastor would share with her. One day the pastor’s words were more than she could bear. It was the truth, but it made her so angry that she began to gossip about him and tell untrue stories about him. But the more she spoke the sadder she became, and at last she began to feel sorry for all the lies she had told.

Finally, in tears, the woman went to the pastor’s house to ask him to forgive her. “I have told so many lies about you,” she said. “Please forgive me.” He did not answer her for a long time. He seemed to be deep in thought and prayer. At last he said, “Yes, I forgive you. But I want you to do something for me.”

“Come with me up to the bell tower and I will show you,” he said, “but first I need to get something from my room.” When the pastor returned from his room, he carried a big feather pillow under his arm. The flustered woman could hardly keep from asking what the pillow was for and why they were going up to the bell tower. However, she kept silent until they finally reached the church bell tower.

From the tower, they could see far out into the countryside that stretched out beyond the village. Suddenly, without saying a word, the pastor ripped open the pillow and dumped all the feathers out the window. The wind and the breezes caught the feathers and carried them out onto the rooftops, into the streets, under cars, into trees, into backyards where the children were playing, and even out to the big highway, and farther still into the distance.

The pastor and the woman watched the feathers flutter away for some time. The pastor turned to the woman and said, “Now I want you to go and pick up all of those feathers for me.”

“Pick up all those feathers?” she gasped. “But that is impossible!”

“Yes, I know,” said the pastor. “Those feathers are like the stories you have told. What you have started, you cannot stop, even if you are sorry, as the winds of gossip have carried them everywhere. You can blow out a match, but you cannot blow out the great forest fire that one match can start!”

The tongue is an amazing part of the body, only about three or four inches long and a couple of inches wide, and yet it can wreak havoc with our relationships with others with unkind or bitter words, or by saying harsh, negative, or critical things to others. The Bible makes some strong statements regarding the power of the tongue: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 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” (James 3:5–6).

But on the other hand, it says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Our words can be inspired by God to bring life to others. We can comfort, strengthen, encourage, inspire, and uplift others with our tongues by speaking words of love, wisdom, and encouragement. We can share the truth of God’s Word and His plan for eternal salvation with others, which will be a tree of life.

The book of Proverbs in the Bible says that the tongue has the power of life and death (Proverbs 18:21). The words formed by our tongues can bless or curse others; they can lift up or knock down; they can help or harm; they can discourage or minister hope and grace to others.

The old saying that “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is not a true saying. People’s lives have been ruined and permanently damaged due to malicious gossip, in extreme cases to the point of committing suicide. Most of us can remember times when we felt low and discouraged because of someone’s cruel, unkind words. And we have also likely wounded someone else at some point with our thoughtless, unkind words, perhaps unintentionally or intended in fun, but hurtful just the same, leaving a wound in someone’s heart.

How sad that we should ever wound a heart that may already be close to breaking, that may already be carrying a heavy burden that we don’t know about! Perhaps at that very moment they were longing for some kind word of encouragement, but instead our words wounded or discouraged.

So how can we guard against thoughtless unkind words that can leap so quickly from the lips? What can we do to tame our tongues? The Bible says, “For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue” (James 3:7–8). Only God can tame it.

The way to tame the tongue is allowing God to change our hearts, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). If your heart is overflowing with God’s love, then the words of your mouth will be filled with love and compassion, because “God is love” (1 John 4:8).

When we receive Jesus as our Savior, we are born again and His Spirit dwells within us and works to transform us through the love of God (2 Corinthians 3:18). “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees” (Ezekiel 36:26–27).

Jesus is the true source of love, kindness, goodness and compassion, and as you place Jesus at the center of your life, His Spirit in you will inspire you and even speak through you His wonderful words of love, light, and life to others. As you take time to faithfully read and study God’s Word in the Bible, His Word will abide in you and help you to grow in spirit. Jesus said, “It is the Spirit who gives life. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).

As you spend time in prayer and in God’s presence, allowing the Holy Spirit to transform your heart and life, the words you speak will be filled with His love and kindness, and genuine concern for others. When you reach out to share the hope and truth we have in Jesus, your words will be imbued with a divine spark of life and power that can only come from the inner depths of the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.

The Bible says, “A man has joy in giving an apt reply, and a word spoken in due season (just at the right time), how good it is” (Proverbs 15:23). And “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). It is a wonderful gift to be able to speak words of love, hope, and encouragement to those who need them at just the right moment and in just the right way, with lasting effect—words of faith and comfort that will bear good fruit in people’s lives.

The key to glorifying God through your words is to open your heart to Jesus, commit your life, your hopes, and your future to Him, and ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). His Spirit will enable you to speak words of life and hope to others, so that your words will edify and “impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

The Bible contains the most beautiful, loving, and profound words ever written, and as we allow them to abide in us, they will be able to flow forth to others. Jesus said, “Whoever believes in Me, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). May we give glory to God through our words and our deeds, and bring God’s message of hope and eternal life through faith in Jesus to others. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).

From an article in Treasures, published by the Family International in 1987. Adapted and republished June 2024. Read by Reuben Ruchevsky.

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