By Melissa Bronson
I used to be a word thrower. Words were my defense, and I could whip them out ninja-style. Like those throwing stars with super sharp corners, I threw them with the intention to hurt and rip and tear.
Don’t you dare, and if you do, I’ll throw them at you fast and hard. You’ll learn.
Why? Why was I so full of defense? Why so quick to speak and slow to listen? Why did I perceive correction as criticism and advice as adversarial?
Two decades and a lot of trials later, the answer’s clear: I was proud. Foolish and proud.
I was also mean.
I was addicted to control. I could get a job done efficiently and exceptionally, and I knew it. I lived for man’s praise.
Enter my heavenly Father–through a series of trials, he held up the mirror, and when he did, I saw a very large plank in my eye (see Matt. 7:3). It was ugly. Pride always is, but we don’t always see it until he explicitly points it out. Then, the removal process hurts. Humility is a work of grace which takes trials, time, and tears. However, our Father is always intentional, and he uses everything we do for his own purposes.
He taught me grace.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt,” (Col. 4:6 ESV).
Grace is a gift. I’ve received it despite myself and only because of Christ’s undeserved sacrifice for unworthy me. Why would I participate (even delight!) in ungracious speech, either spoken or heard? If I truly appreciated the extravagance with which I’ve been gifted, I would refuse this nonsense altogether.
Salt is a preservative. It’s necessary for life and prevents rot. Am I using words to preserve others’ hearts? My Savior preserved my life by sacrificing his. Thus, I should actively, intentionally use my words to cover others in love.
They can also be costly. Christ spoke with intention; he did not toss out words in self-defense or willfulness. He spoke nothing when he could have said everything against me.
“He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word,” (Isa. 53:7 NLT).
We love power, and words are powerful; Satan knows this. He lures us into gossip and slander. He tells us we’re better than others, so it’s fine to drag their names through the mud. He tells us we can build our own kingdoms and determine who stands and who falls by way of our words.
As God molded my heart, he said, Filter your words through the power of my Spirit. Let the words from your mouth be mine. Seek me, shelve yourself, and see how I’ll use you for the building of my kingdom.
Words change lives. They have the power to destroy or to heal; the power to build up or tear down. Let’s seek the Spirit together and ask him to do mighty works through our words. Left unto themselves, words may do nothing but rot, but in the Father’s hands they are exquisite, eternal tools of preservation.
Melissa Bronson loves authenticity, her fanny pack, digging in dirt, sharp pencils, and watching her Father’s hand spin Life in and around her. Oh, and words. She loves words. She is mother to four daughters, wife, sister, daughter and friend. You can find her blog at mdbronson.com.