“I’m freaking out!”
“I’m so burned out; I quit!”
Clichés. Erroneous negative comments. Everyday chitchat. Sometimes I throw words around sort of carelessly, without thinking about what I am truly saying.
After all, they’re just words—pretty harmless, right?
Jesus didn’t seem to think so. He taught that our words are actually quite important (Mt. 12:36).
I think it’s because words have great power.
Words can paint lifesaving pictures of God. They can reveal who He is and display His value. Our words can give hope to the dying and express love in a world filled with hate. What we say affects our moods and even our perspective. We can use our words to bring honor to God and to bless others.
What we say can spread doubt and dishonor, doom and gloom. Our words can make God look worthless and small. We can stir up a lot of trouble and heartache with a single comment. Negative words drag us down. Do the things we say display faith or doubt? Do our words make belonging to God seem valuable or worthless?
Since our words are powerful, it’s important to evaluate the words we say. David once prayed:
“Lord, help me control my tongue; help me be careful about what I say.” Psalm 141:3 NCV
I think this is a good prayer for me, too. In evaluating my words, I’ve come up with at least 5 things I’ve got to stop saying–or even thinking–this year:
“I’ll never get finished.”
Translation: “I don’t believe God will help me finish what He has called me to do.”
As I worked to finish my book last summer, I said this way too often. But that only made the job harder. There were days I expressed a lot more doubt than faith. Mercifully, God helped me finish the book, anyway. Looking back, I realize that expressing my faith verbally would have made writing it easier and much more fun.
Whatever God calls you to do this year, expect Him to help you do it (Is. 41:10). Talk like you believe He is helping you, even when you don’t see it.
“I can’t take ANOTHER thing.”
Translation: “I don’t believe God helps me bear my burdens; I’m alone in this.”
A few years ago, we bought a fixer upper. We moved out of our old house before the new one was ready, so we stored our furniture and moved in with my parents, with three kids, two cats and a dog. I didn’t pack any medicines—after all, it was just for a couple of weeks. I didn’t pack many clothes, either . . . Two weeks turned into two months. And in that time, my son was hospitalized with a staph infection, my daughter broke her wrist, and the cat ran away. I couldn’t find anything, ever. The season changed and I had no access to my fall clothes and more importantly, neither did my teenage daughter.
One day I said (ok, maybe I yelled), “I can’t take another thing!” And I admit I said that this year, too, as I faced 10 hour work days to meet the deadline for my book. Maybe you know the feeling. Pause and evaluate, is this really true? Does God help us bear burdens or not? The Bible says He is our refuge and strength (Ps. 46:1), but do we talk like we truly believe it?
“Nobody has my problem.”
Translation: “No one has ever had to deal with this before. Poor me.”
Years ago, I struggled with being painfully shy. It seemed like nobody else in the whole world had my problem. But the more God grows me past my shyness, the more I realize that many people struggle with shyness, too. None of our weaknesses are unique–I’m always tempted to think mine are. As I’ve launched my book this year, many of my weaknesses have come to light. But I hold on to this:
If God has helped countless others overcome weakness, then He can help us overcome weakness, too (1 Cor. 15:57).
“Why does everything have to be so hard?”
Translation: “God should make my life easier. Poor, pitiful me.”
While this is so tempting to say when life gets difficult, it is counterproductive. Last year held a lot of stretching “firsts” for me, like being interviewed on radio and TV. The first time I practiced interviewing, I clammed up. Silence. Crickets. It was awful. “Why does everything have to be so hard for me?” I said (more than once). This negative question didn’t help. Finally, I realized it was a matter of faith. I decided to trust God and just do it. Much to my surprise, I’ve actually enjoyed the interviews. With each one, I gain confidence and understanding. The struggle has deepened my faith.
I’ve learned that God gives us power, not just to do the easy things, but to do the hard things.
“I’m just a worrier; I can’t help it.”
Translation: “I have no choice but to wring my hands and worry myself sick.”
Jesus disagrees. He said, “ I tell you, do not worry about your life” (Mt. 6:25). In other words, we actually do have a choice. Our mind and mouth can actually be trained to think and speak words of faith. Jesus offers us power to live beyond fear and worry. This starts in our mind and shows up in each word we say.
Think back over the last few weeks. Evaluate what you said and why. Do your words align with what you believe? What do your words say about God?
As we begin this brand new year of 2018, let’s use our powerful words to:
- Align our perspective with God’s promises.
- Speak of hope to others, instead of doubt.
- Express our faith and love, often.
- Verbalize what we truly believe, instead of verbalizing our frustrations.
- Display the infinite value of being God’s child.
- Bring glory to God.
What do you want to quit saying in 2018? Add your ideas in the comments section below.
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