Updated: May 5
Our society is so noisy with the clamoring of many factions. Our world is divided into groups and it appears as though we are more tribalistic than ever. We are emboldened by our first amendment rights to say whatsoever we please. We have weaponized our words, using it to inflict the deepest wounds on our opponents. We hide behind the internet as a shield, while we attack our supposed enemies by stabbing them in the back with our vicious words. We are proud when we cut people down with our words. We wear it as a badge of honor. Seldom do we take time to consider the meaning of our words. What is the purpose of our words?
Proverbs 18:2l, “life and death is in the power of the tongue.”
Think about it. Words can literally breathe life into someone or breathe death. Our words have greater ramifications today because of technology. Our words can reach millions of people instantaneously depending on our social reach. With our words we can empower, or we can cut down. When we speak, we therefore have the power to breathe life or death. Recently in the news, a woman allegedly sent text messages to her boyfriend that ultimately caused him to commit suicide. It is alleged that she sent him hundreds of messages telling him to “go die” and that she, the world and his family would be better off without him. Based on those alleged text messages, she was charged with involuntary manslaughter. That is the power that words have— the power to bring life or to take it away. Whether this is true or not, this is a poignant example of how words can push someone over the edge or bring them back. We must behold the power of words and when we dare speak, be mindful of how our words will affect others.
Proverbs 16:24, “kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”
Honey is famous for its sweetness. The word sweet has many meanings including thoughtful, kind, satisfying, enjoyable, pleasant and good-natured. We gravitate towards things that are sweet because it is satisfying. Proverbs talks about how kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul. What a true statement! How often have you gotten upset with someone because of how they spoke to you? What if that person had added a splash of honey to their mouth? The conversation most likely would have been received in a better manner. Kind words are like honey and can be used to heal, encourage and uplift others. What if we used a splash of honey to our mouths before we spoke? I call this the honey method. The honey method is about using words to help people heal. You can practice the honey method by doing the following:
1. Never speak in anger (practice the art of remaining silent unless you have something kind or constructive to say)
2. Listen for understanding – not for rebuttal or for winning (communication is not about winning)
3. Speak Life (encouragement and positive affirmation is more valuable than criticism)
4. Throw out Sarcasm (sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. This is because it is thinly veiled rebuke or scorn dressed as humor. People want to feel genuine connection and sarcasm gets in the way of that. If used often it will destroy relationships.
When we speak to people in a sarcastic, demeaning manner we are not speaking life to them. When you enter a room how do you add or take away from it? Are you that person who is known for tearing others down and making a mockery of them, or are you that person who lights others up? The choice is yours. If our intention is to teach or inspire, then we must use the honey method. By practicing the honey method, we are more apt to deescalate situations that arise, instead of pouring gasoline on it. Once you make the honey method a regular practice, when you enter a room, you will be adding to it and people will remember your kindness. People will be drawn to you and you will standout, in a good way (hopefully). As a result, your life will completely change for the better.
Here is an example of how words if used in the wrong way can injure. When my brother and I first moved to America, our stepsister hated us. She regularly tortured us with her words. She told us that we were stupid, inferior, worthless and that no one cared about us. We believed her. I tried shaking off the shackles of her words, but it was like a broken record playing in my head over and over. I wore those words like a tattoo I was ashamed of. If I am being honest, it was difficult to heal from those wounds. I had healed from so many other things that transpired in my life, except those horrible things my stepsister said. Words are so consequential that we tend to more easily recover from a physical wound than that of a verbal wound. Why did she say those things? Her purpose was to tear us down, and it did. That is why it important for me to write about words. Words are not harmless meanderings but a powerful tool that should be used for good not evil. We should never allow words to roam outside of our mouths. Our words have consequences so we must behold the power of our words.
Why should we choose to speak life giving words to others? The reason is that when we speak harmful, hurtful, vile and vulgar words to others, we are defiling ourselves. In other words, when we speak harmful words, we are damaging our own integrity. The words that we speak demonstrates exactly what is stored in our hearts. A person with a merry heart does not go around tearing others down with their mouth.
Proverbs 17:22, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
Mark 7:15, “nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.”
What does this have to do with words you might inquire? Well, you see if your heart is bitter then your mouth will be bitter. As a result, you will be spreading bitterness and people will generally feed off that energy. Alternatively, if your heart is merry then your mouth will be merry. You will use your words to refresh others. People who go around bashing others, saying harmful, hurtful words are doing so because that is what is stored in their hearts. Quite often I see people shutting down social media accounts as a result of things that people say on the internet. When people speak lies, vulgarity and destructive words, that reflects on them not on you. Never allow the negative things people say about you to affect who you are. What people say about you quite often is not a reflection of you but a reflection of them. What comes out of our mouth springs forth from our heart. If our heart is contaminated, our words will be as well. Our words shape our world. If we want to change our world then we must mine our mouths. We cannot clean a dish from the outside and expect it to be clean—no we must clean the inside first and then the outside will be clean. I tell you it is better to use the honey method than to use vinegar. The honey method is speaking to people with sweetness not hate, not judgement, not disdain, not sarcasm, not pity. Just speak to people regardless of what they have done or not done with honey not vinegar.
If you want to live a high quality, fulfilled, peaceful life then speak to all people with honey regardless of who they are or what they have done. When you live this way, you are literally blessing your own life and doors will open for you. People will want to be around you and go the distance for you. You will be known as a wise and kind person. So, my friends, in a noisy world where everyone has an opinion and there are panels of critics waiting to pounce on everything we do or don’t do, will you be a force for good or will you conform to the vileness, the lewdness that seems to plague our world? This is your life and the choice is yours. I choose to speak life. I choose to honey my mouth.