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Is it good or bad or...? It's up to you

What comes out of your mouth?

My dad was a redheaded Oaky who moved to California in the Dust Bowl. Soon after arriving in a small farming town, his father deserted the family, leaving behind a poverty-stricken saint of a woman, and seven young children. Cleatis Leon (my dad’s name…can you imagine?) grew up tough in Tulare County, often eating fruit from nearby orchards to leave any potatoes or beans for the rest of the family. Was it the abandonment of his father that made my father's heart so hard? I will never know . . . but this I know, his critical words hurt me deeply. And then one day when I was about 14 years old, my dear mother shook her finger at me and said, 'if you're not careful, you're going to be just like your dad--always critical.' Mom’s words were both a curse and a blessing; they shocked me, got my attention, and caused me to purpose changing what might have been my 'natural bent'. What trait of the tongue did you inherit--loose talk, coarse talk, or a critical tongue? Or do you have lips quick to gossip, a steady flow of negative spew...or are you constantly talking about the 'awful state of the world'? Here's the thing: what comes out of your mouth is powerful. Your words will either build up your family, encourage your colleagues, put a smile on your teammate's face or cause them to wince inside. I spoke with someone today who is strong, confident and godly, but words flung across the room at him have wounded him deeply. Here's the thing - even if we do not think accusations or criticisms are true, they cause us to question ourselves, they cause us to look down. We must be careful with what we say. Apt. Suitable. Beneficial. Gracious. Encouraging. Do those adjectives describe the things you have to say? Something to consider. You know there is a lot said about how we ought have the freedom to do this or that, to go here or there, feel this way or that, well hey--we all have a choice about what comes out of our mouth! So, let's be prudent. Scripture has a lot of valuable instruction to influence our taming of the tongue, such as: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.1 By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.2 From the wise teacher, Solomon- There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be silent and a time to speak3 (notice the order: time to be silent, time to speak - - hmmm) . . . and also Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. Let my words be few.4 Let my words be few. Huh… that is a really good line, and quite challenging. Too often, I give my opinion when it is not solicited; too often, I say the unnecessary thing. Too often, I speak when I have nothing beneficial to say. Consider this, also from Paul here in our Ephesians chapter four, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.5 It raises the bar, does it not? I remember when I was a little girl and my mother had heard too much from me, she would say, “Shhh---keep still now.” Indeed, if you have nothing beneficial to say, that is a good word, ‘shhh—keep still now.’ On the other hand, if you have a word of encouragement, speak it out; if you have a word that affirms, share it! If you have a word that will lighten another’s load, offer it -- because Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.6 Because why? Because we all choose what comes out of our mouths. So let's choose to build up and not tear down, to speak life, improve a conversation or keep still. Are you with me? Great song here: Speak Life: Let's inspire others with our words, Christine 1 - Colossians 15.1 2 - Matthew 12.37 3 - Ecclesiastes 3.1, 7 4 - Ecclesiastes 5.2 5 - Ephesians 4.29 6 - Proverbs 16.24

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