"Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29 (NLT).
We all communicate. We use body language, facial expressions, and words. Words are powerful! How many times have we heard, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?" Almost everyone agrees this statement is false! We all remember the words that were spoken to us 10+ years ago. The words sting just as much as the first time. Our words can be empty with defeat of filled with life to encourage others.
God has been chipping away at me, especially in how I use my words to people. Some of the time it is not the words I'm using, but the attitude and heart of what I am saying to my friends, students and my wife. We have tremendous power with our words. We can use opportunities to speak life into others or to tear them down. I have been guilty so many times of using empty words to hurt others because of my own insecurity and self-preservation. Insecurity masks itself as a bold confidence many times. How many times have I used empty words that are filled with defeat rather than victory? My prayer is that my words will give life and grace for people to have hope in Christ. Jesus said, "And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak" Matthew 12:36. We will take an account of our words, we need to be wise in our words.
God has been chipping away at me, especially in how I use words in my prayers. Am I going to Jesus first and worshipping Him every day? Many times I focus on reading my Bible looking for a new message idea, topic or illustration. Instead God is telling me to consume my heart into His heart. Be still. Listen. Stop. Wait. The urge to do more is the tempting response in ministry when we are hurting. Those who are facing the most spiritual warfare and discouragement are the ones on the front of the battle lines. The world teaches that peace is found in surrender to selfishness. Empty prayers are saying "pre-packaged" statements that are filled with tradition. God desires honesty, transparency and humility. God desires a clean and contrite heart.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to go through life with empty words to God and others. Are you using words to build others up or tear them down?