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Life or Death?

 “I have nothing to look forward to” – These were the headlines of the local paper yesterday morning, voiced by a college senior after learning that her school had indefinitely postponed graduation ceremonies. “This sucks” “It isn’t fair” “Why is this happening?” “Why do we have to go through this?” While these words aren’t news headlines…they are words that I’ve either heard or spoken in the past week!

We are living in a trying hour and I understand these comments and why they were made. I’m not here to challenge their validity or condemn the people making them – but the Lord reminded me of something this morning that I needed to hear:

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21

Ouch. Apparently my words hold immense power…the power of life and death. If this seems overly dramatic consider James, who says in James 3 that our tongue holds the power of blessing and cursing.

If you’re like me, I tend to give little thought to the power of my words, especially when I’m frustrated or hurting. But have you ever noticed that your words seem to reinforce the trajectory of your day and your attitude?

Here is what I mean: Over the past year I’ve noticed a negative attitude in my heart towards weekends (I know…stay with me) that usually starts revealing itself Saturday mornings. I’m a morning person, I like structure, and I love to be outside whenever possible. But, like most of us, I find myself indoors way more often than I like and by the time the weekend rolls around I am READY to be outside!

So, one particular Saturday morning dawns clear and bright and it appears to be warm enough to go outside and enjoy the day…and I can’t wait…maybe I’ll FINALLY get to finish one of those many projects I started months ago! But then reality begins to set in: we have 3 wonderful, very energetic, young boys (8, 5 and almost 2) and when Saturday morning rolls around, they also can’t wait to enjoy the day!

Now, I love my kids dearly, but I’m telling you (and my wife can verify this!), it’s like herding cats to get them all fed, dressed, teeth brushed and outside before noon! And when we finally get outside at about 11am I begin to realize that we have roughly an hour before we need to head back in and start the process all over again. Somewhere in there I mutter sarcastically under my breath “Fantastic. Another Saturday that’s half over and I haven’t gotten a %@!* thing done”.

By Sunday afternoon I said to my wife, in anger, “I hate weekends!” Now, there are many life lessons that I need to learn from this story (being present with my kids, not taking my anger out my wife, etc), but the point I want to make here is this: my words reinforced the trajectory of my day and my attitude…both within the weekend I’m referring to and the ones that followed. To the point that before one weekend even began I found myself “bracing” for the inevitable. And thankfully, it was at this point that I finally asked God “where is this coming from!?” and He graciously revealed the lesson at hand.

God is gently fathering me in this area, by showing me the fruit of my words. When I repented and began speaking words of life (i.e. God thanks for healthy, energetic kids, thanks for this crazy season of life, etc.) over my weekends the fruit of it was this: I actually began to enjoy them and my family again! Does this mean I never have a difficult weekend? Of course not…but my response to it and the fruit being produced in my inner life is changing for the better! While I’m not there yet, I’m beginning to learn how to evaluate the words that I speak over myself and my situations and ask myself: are these words of life or of death? Are they blessings or curses?

Have you ever stopped to consider what kinds of words you are speaking over yourself or your situation? Cynicism and sarcasm have long been used as excuses for speaking words of death or curses over one another. I encourage you to invite Jesus into this by asking Him to give you ears to hear what kind of words you are speaking today! It’s a journey worth taking!