They really matter, our words do.
Even (or maybe especially?) our words on social media. I love Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram as much as anyone out there (and have – once or twice *cough* – seen several hours of an afternoon sucked away by the black hole that is social media. How DOES it happen??). I’ve caught up with friends who live overseas or just across the country, found gorgeous photographers, writers and creatives online, and blessed my husband with yet another Pinterest trial recipe (#fail #butnotalways).
But other times…I’ve gotten up from scrolling my facebook feed and felt literally dirty from the mud-slinging I just read through. Words that would most likely NEVER have been said to someone’s face, much less someone hardly known, get thrown around like hand grenades and land in another human’s soul.
Unfortunately, I’ve been one of the grenade-slingers. I see something that triggers a raw nerve in me online, and my passive aggressive side lashes out, sarcastic words as my weapon, wounding someone – or even a whole group of people, lumping ‘them’ all together as if there were no individual faces involved – in my effort to make myself heard. To make my rights known. To make myself bigger.
And I forget that making myself bigger is not the goal…instead, it’s making Jesus bigger. That’s what the word ‘magnify’ that has been sung over and over in church, actually means….’to make bigger.’
What would it look like if we used our words – and social media – to lift Him up and make Him bigger? If we used our words to bring hope and life, instead of mud and death? What would happen if we looked up from our screens and looked one another in the eyes? Started building awkward, tentative relationships with others who may think differently than us? Would we start to see them as someone else that Jesus loves…and died for? Or would they still remain a “them,” a “they,” the “Others,” like in Lost? My guess is probably not.
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. ~Eph. 4:29
I know, I KNOW, there are times when I’ve said something in the moment (or even NOT said something), and then thought later, “That probably wasn’t what they needed to hear right then.” Definitely not helpful or beneficial. Or instead, “I should have opened my mouth and shared the prompting of my heart…instead of clamming up.” Not so beneficial either. Heaven help.
Life and death really are in the power of the tongue. (I looked and looked for that verse and couldn’t find where it was…I’m thinking Proverbs? If you are a wise one who knows, maybe you could help a girl out and mention it in the comments? K, thanks.) We actually have the power in these tastebud-filled flappers inside our mouths to pour life and hope and love into the pitcher of someone else’s soul. What a beautiful gift. But oh, also, that same tongue? Can smash to pieces the soul of another with words of death, doubt or, my own personal favorite, sarcasm.
And so, I’m starting to ask Jesus to help my words be ones that fit well in the moment in which they’re shared. That they would be infused with the hope, wisdom, grace and encouragement of the Spirit.
That I would be known for hope-filled words.
That’s my prayer anyway.