“Words are tricky,” is a favorite saying of a friend of mine. She chooses her words carefully when speaking to others.
Especially when writing texts and emails where the words lack the tone, hand gestures, and facial expressions that we all use in face-to-face conversations.
My friend is the exception, I think. Most of us are more careless with our words. Even Christians, who are held to a higher standard. Do our conversations with each other sound any different from those of non-believers? Should they? How do we talk to our husbands, children, and closest friends?
Solomon said, “A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet;” (Prov 27:15) Having over seven hundred wives, he would certainly know. But we should remember, his wives weren’t Hebrew women. They didn’t follow the One True God and their idolatry led to his downfall. (1 Kings 11)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”(Colossians 3:16 NKJV)
I’ve always loved this passage from Colossians. What peace and harmony might we enjoy if we all spoke to each other in this way!
At first glance, psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs may seem repetitive. But a closer look at the Greek reveals subtle differences.
A song, of course, is any word sung. The term spiritual songs sets a broad umbrella, while hymns are metrical compositions (poetry), and psalms, which are often hymns, are specifically Hebrew cantillations (chanting scripture passages).
The scripture tells us we are to use this speech when teaching and admonishing each other. It’s interesting how many of us know the words to hundreds of songs, yet we can’t memorize the simplest passage of scripture. #PreachingToMyself
Clearly, teaching scripture and scriptural concepts through song and chanting is most effective.
Since the root word for admonish also means advise, I’m going to take some literary license and suggest that using this speech to *encourage* each other is also inferred by this passage. I think Paul’s other letters support this thought. (see Eph 5:19)
Knowing what to say to people who are grieving and suffering is never easy. And sometimes, just our presence is needed most. But when we do speak, platitudes (even spiritual ones) are often not helpful. Rather, speaking (or writing) the word of God over someone brings life, light, and hope into whatever darkness they are experiencing. In those moments, the words become more than human speech, but the language of God spoken in prayer.
One of my favorite passages is in Ephesians 3, and I want to pray it over you today:
May He grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (my paraphrase of Eph 3:16-19)
Let us all take a lesson from Paul and be mindful before we speak. Our words not only influence the one who hears, but they reflect what is in the heart of the one who speaks.