It’s allergy season in Tennessee, and religion is getting a boost. Someone’s head explodes and you hear—what I call—the “Achoo, Bless You” chant. There are more “bless you’s” flying around now than in the off-season, so we have that going for us….or do we?
I’ll spare the history lesson on the origins of the “Achoo, Bless You”. But, is anyone tuning in? When I get “bless you’d”, I often want to say, “Do you mean it? You’re really blessing me? What blessing are you giving me?” Yes, yes, I know: I’m over-inflating the “bless you” thing, but it highlights something deeper.
We’ve lost understanding that words matter—every word.
As I listen to the casual way words are tossed around in our society, I’m often struck by the fact that we’ve lost this foundational truth: Words matter—every word. They are either a blessing or a curse – they bring life or they usher in death. Too often, I hear people calling each other names and then quickly following it up with, “Just kidding”. And don’t get me started on this one: Parents say, “Oh, she’s 4 going on 14.” AAAAGGGHHHH – let her be 4 or stop wondering why you have to put up with a teen’s mouth on a tiny tot. Parents label their children; spouses label each other as their behavior. “You are a liar. You are so lazy. You are disrespectful. You are selfish.” Words matter, and when labels are assigned, people sink—or rise—to the assignment.
We’ve lost understanding that words spoken cannot be unsaid.
Genesis 27 makes no sense in our modern world. If I told you that a guy cheated his brother out of getting a verbal “blessing” from his father, would it matter much? What’s the big deal? It’s only words. That dad could go back and tell everyone he made a mistake and transfer the words to the other guy. Call a do-over. But our way of seeing it underscores another thing we’ve lost: Once words are spoken, they cannot be unsaid. When anger rules our tongues and typing/texting fingers, we spew poison. A Verbal Poison Control Hotline doesn’t exist, and an antidote to undo the damage isn’t a phone call away. If the poison-source isn’t cleaned up, the slow-drip of verbal venom into another person’s soul will destroy their sense of self.
Do we understand there is a way to control our words?
How can we change? It’s not about our will power. It’s not about just saying “no” (more about that next week). It’s about knowing you are powerless to do better. How many times have you spewed and then sorry’d all over yourself? It’s exhausting and embarrassing. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can change poison into positivity. It starts by telling God what you need. You need His help over your words – and your heart. Sound too easy—too much like a cop-out? “I just tell God I need His help? That makes it sound like it’s all on Him to change who I am. “ Exactly.
Your part? Keep it simple: Make “space” for Him to do the work. Praying and asking God for help is one way to make this space. Instead of standing on your thoughts and ideas, you are opening up room for Him to give you His thinking and new deposits of faith. The more faith God deposits, the more you trust that He can do this good work of transforming poison into pathways to love.
Pause and pray. Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.
My favorite verse in the Bible is 2 Corinthians 10:5. It’s my favorite because it has been the instruction from God that has helped transform me the most. “Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”. When I only speak words that Christ would approve, I will not speak poison. When I’m tempted to spew, I try to say God’s words instead of my own. Pause, pray and take the poison captive before it escapes. Let the Lord do the cleansing work. He’ll either give you the self-control to be silent or a productive, cleaned-up way to speak.
Words matter – Lord, I need you to help me choose words that bring life in situations where it’s easier to breathe fire. Help me to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. In this area of my life, I need You like breath, God. Thank You for loving and leading me. Amen.