Few people realize the importance of the words they speak. There is almost no way to overemphasize the importance of what we say yet most people give it almost no thought, usually speaking without thinking.
The inspirational and classical author, Og Mandino, once asked to himself, "Why is it then that so many of us go out of our own way to offend others with criticism and offensive judgments that so often come back to haunt us? Why do we allow our big mouths to dig ruts in our path so deep that our forward progress is finally nil? Is this more of that "will to fail" that has already been covered?"
He continued and commented, "If your tongue has been busy accumulating enemies for you, enemies you do not need who can harm you, now is as good a time as any to cease and desist. How sad it would be for such a petty habit to destroy your great potential."
Another very well known inspirational and classical author described the worst effects of criticism to the receivers. Dale Carnegie, in his book entitled "How to Win Friends and Influence People" declares that "Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive, and usually makes him strive to justify himself. Criticism is dangerous, because it wounds a man's precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses his resentment."
My dear readers, Dale Carnegie reminds us, "When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity." He warns that "criticism is a dangerous spark - a spark that is liable to cause an explosion in the powder magazine of pride - an explosion that sometimes hastens death."
Carnegie continued and gave very good examples to his above statements. "General Leonard Wood was criticized and not allowed to go with the army to France. That blow to his pride probably shortened his life. Bitter criticism drove Thomas Chatterton, the English poet, to suicide."
I remember the Greek Philosopher, Pythagoras once said, "A wound from a tongue is worse than a wound from a sword for the latter affects only the body, the former affects the spirit."
In the Bible, James the disciple of Jesus Christ gave a warning of the evil poison of the tongue. He described some who try to use their tongue as praise and blessing to God, then turn around to use their tongue to speak evil of one another. "With it we bless our God and Father, and with it rue curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:9-10).
We cannot use our tongue to curse and bad-mouth our brethren, then continue "business as usual" with our relationship with God.
The Bible clearly says that such tongue behavior is characteristic of hypocrites. "The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor... "(Prov. 11:9).
The great teacher of all times, The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us that our words are important. In the book of Matthew 12:36-37, Jesus exclaimed, "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted and by your words you will be condemned" (NIV).
Certainly, my dear readers, this is not a negative message. When we understand the importance and power of our words, we can use them for good.
The Word of God clearly says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21 NIV).
James, the disciple of Jesus Christ, adds, "The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider that a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a word of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and itself set on fire by hell" (NIV).
The above texts mean that life is controlled by words.
I repeat, life is controlled by words.
Words release authority.
Words determine the course of events.
What should you do about this?
Ellen G. White, one of the great founders of Seventh-day Adventist, gave a very good and inspiring answer to above query. In her book entitled "Ministry of Healing" she encouraged us that we should, "Cultivate the habit of speaking well of others. Dwell upon the good qualities of those with whom you associate, and see as little as possible of their errors and failings."
She further encouraged us, "When tempted to complain of what someone has said or done, praise something in that person's life or character. Cultivate thankfulness. Praise God for His wonderful love in giving Christ to die for us."
And for those who are enjoying and making fun of criticism, she warned, "Evil speaking is a twofold curse, falling more heavily upon the speaker than upon the hearer. He who scatters the seeds of dissension and strife reaps in his own soul the deadly fruits. The very act of looking for evil in others develops evil in those who look. By dwelling upon the faults of others, we are changed into the same image."
She encouraged, "Instead of criticizing and condemning others, say, "I must work out my own salvation. If I co-operate with Him who desires to save my soul, I must watch myself diligently. I must become a new creature in Christ. Then, instead of weakening those who are striving against evil, I can strengthen by encouraging words."
She added, "We are too indifferent in regard to one another. Too often we forget that our fellow laborers are in need of strength and sympathy. Help them by your prayers, and let them know that you do it."
James asserted that, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless" (James 1:26 NIV).
People, remember no one knows when life is over. Our life is like a vapor that appears for a moment and then disappears! So I encourage you, don't let your life die like an insect's without doing something good for yourself and for your fellowmen.
Rebecca Barlow Jordan reminds, "It's not how much you accomplish in life that really counts but how much you give to others. It's not how many goals you reach, but how many lives you touch. Believe in the impossible, hold tight to the incredible, and live each day to it's fullest potential. You can make a difference in your world."
Before I conclude with my article, I would like to share with you a short story of the "Song of the Bird".
Sufi Bayazi says this about himself:
"I was a revolutionary when I was young, and all my prayer to God was … "Lord, give me the energy to change the world."
As I approached middle age and realized that half my life was gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to… "Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come into contact with me. Just my family and friends, I shall be content."
Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, "Lord, give me the grace to change MYSELF."
Had I prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life."
"Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable...if anything is excellent or praiseworthy...think about such things" (Philippians 4:8 NIV).
Copyright © 2006 Moises P. Reconalla
My prayer and my aim to God:
May this article help and assist you on how to improve your life in becoming a productive individual, a source of encouragement and a source of inspiration to other people! Remember life is so short so use it for a productive, for a meaningful, and for a peaceful way of living with yourself and with your fellowmen.