They are more powerful than a punch to the gut, and potentially more inspiring than a sunset over a beach. Words have the power to build or destroy. We vastly underestimate the power of words, for good or ill, to affect others. And, what is more, the Christian is obliged to use gracious words:
“Let your speech always be gracious,” the good apostle said, “seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
- When someone greets you, he has paid you the compliment of his warmth and attention. Look that person in the eye and say “hello.”
- If someone fails to greet you, do not let that affect your behavior the next time you see him.
- When you need someone to do something for you, say “please.” They are not your indentured servants, they are doing you a favor.
- When someone does something for you, tell them “Thank you.” Even, or especially, if its something they do for you all the time (elders, teachers, your mom); express your gratitude. Text them, write them a note, call them.
- If you’re not sure someone knows you appreciate them, try to use actual words to say so. It is unlikely that they possess mental telepathy. They will live on your expression of gratitude for a month!
- If you find you have hurt someone, say “I’m sorry.” Life is short. The opportunity may pass before you can.
- If you need to forgive someone, tell them you forgive them. It will lift a weight heavier than a dump truck from their shoulders.
- When someone seems to slight you, continue to treat them with consideration. Sometimes people are simply having a bad day.
- When someone is spiteful and unjust in their treatment of you, respond with class and kindness. Their action hurt you? So how does responding in kind help? Two wrongs do not make a right.
- Be intentional about saying loving, uplifting, encouraging things. We need to practice this art until we become maestros.
“A gentle tongue,” the Wise man says, “is a tree of life” (Proverbs 15:4). Do what you can to nourish and strengthen; the world has enough heartbreak and derision.