Words have such power! You can change somebody’s day or even their life with what you say and how you say it!
There have been several times in my life when I can remember exactly what someone said to me, both good and bad. I can remember the day when I was visiting my grandmother in Louisville Kentucky, I was maybe 15, and a guy came up to me and said to me “you are the prettiest girl I have ever seen”. Never knew who he was or saw him again but I certainly can remember that moment over 40 years ago.
Likewise I can remember the day when I was told by a teacher that I was not smart (that was not the word he used but I refuse to repeat it) I was in the fifth grade. It was longer ago than the “pretty” comment but can you guess which one I have thought of more often?
Now, I invite you to take a moment to think of a time in your life when something someone said stuck with you. I am sorry for those hurtful ones and I pray there were many more special ones that made you smile. We have all been both helped and hurt by words. Likewise, whether we like to admit it or not, we have probably used our words in ways that have harmed others.
The words we speak as individuals, especially Christians and leaders, do not just stay with us, they have an impact on our community. The scripture I wrote in the margins of my to do list today was from Proverbs 16:24 NLT to be exact and it says “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” What if we poured out words of kindness to the people we interact with every day. With that in consideration let me ask you a couple of questions:
How does your faith affect the way you speak to and with others?
How does your personal witness affect the way you interact with others?
It is God’s desire that we would be His witnesses in the world. If I am a follower of Christ shouldn’t you see that in the way I speak and how I interact with other? Yes, yes, yes! There is no question, Jesus asks us to Love one another and we cannot do that if we are not connected to Christ “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John15:5.
This bearing much fruit part is important! When we practice the fruit of the spirit it encourages us and others that there is another way to live, respond, and behave. Living out each fruit requires that we pause, pray and ask God for wisdom, thus allowing God to give us courage to choose differently. We have the responsibility to live out each fruit to glorify God in all we say and do. If we rely on God’s spirit to encourage us too, we will find that our behaviors and words will align more with Christ.
Our spiritual lives will strengthen. Our relationships will strengthen. Living out the fruit of the spirit is an intentional process that involves surrendering ourselves not just one time but daily. This is an open invitation to represent our faith to our community. Whether it is by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control, we all have the opportunity live as faithful servants. Your words and actions matter.
You can choose each day, each hour and each minute what kind of witness you are going to be in the world. Let us choose to be followers of Jesus. May they know we are Christians by our love, words, and actions. May our words be like honey to the soul.
The writer is the associate pastor at Sidney First United Methodist Church in Sidney.