In this note and the next couple, let us reflect on our life regardless of our individual circumstances. Let us realize we have so much to be thankful for. In light of eternity, our lives are short, even if we are fortunate enough to live to be well over 100.
Regardless of whether our lives are short or long, the impact that we have on others each day will impact generations to come and impact all of eternity. None of us have the promise of tomorrow so we need to make each day count. I struggle with this as much as anyone – maybe more than most. There are always deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and people to deal with, but let us not confuse the urgent with the important. They are rarely the same.
Although I don’t get outdoors nearly as much as I would like, the analogy of life being a trek is so important and fitting. We slowly go through life one day at a time. I enjoy walking and hiking and hope to soon to get back to running. I enjoy long hikes in the hills and mountains, but they can be very challenging. The difficulties of these trails are a stark reminder that on some days life is an uphill climb and can be very painful for the moment, but if we keep at it, we will reach our destination…eventually. Sometimes it takes being infused with a little more courage to make it through.
As we think about infusing courage into our lives and the lives of others, as I mentioned in last week’s Wisdom Notes, it is similar to what happens when a person receives a blood transfusion. The person receives a life-altering experience that will help them to be fully alive. What we say to others and how we treat others each day is either infusing them with life or death. This applies both to how and what we speak to ourselves and how we treat ourselves.
Are you living daily or dying daily? Each day is a new day. We will never again have a chance at today with its unique situations or circumstances. Although some seasons of life feel like we are on the proverbial treadmill or are reliving the same day over and over, like in the movie Groundhog Day, that is not the case. We only have one chance to get today correct. As was written by William Penn, “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”
Our words alone can have a significant impact on the lives of others either for good or for evil. The old rhyme “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is just not true. As we looked at last week, words have the power of life and death.
All of us have a problem when it comes to controlling our tongues. We suffer from “diarrhea of the mouth” and “foot in mouth” diseases. James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in his letter Chapter 3 verse 2, “Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” Suffice it to say, controlling how we speak to others is a problem for all of us. We will look at this entire passage in James 3 on another day, as it gives a clear description about controlling our tongue.
When I was in my early teen years, my nose outgrew my small and slight frame significantly as I was going through puberty. My family called me, “The Nose” or “Noses,” which was a play on the Bible character Moses. Thankfully, I eventually grew into my nose, for the most part, but for my size, it is still a bit on the large size. Fortunately, I realize as an adult, that physical features are not what makes a person significant. Even now though, I’m a little self-conscious about it.
I know that this example is trivial compared to what most have to deal with when trying to navigate the harsh words of others. The point is to understand and show you how powerful and lasting our words can be. A careless word can shape — or misshape — someone’s reality for years to come.
We need to take to heart and put into practice the advice that Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Ephesus Chapter 4 verse 29, “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”
This verse provides three keys to appropriate speaking:
- Never use foul or abusive language.Language is so rich and full that we should never need to use words that are foul or abusive when communicating with others. Foul or abusive language is negative, or positive, and we should always avoid it.
- Everything that we say should be good and helpful. Every word that we speak to others should be good and also helpful to that person. Even if it is words of correction or discipline, the objective is to help the person that is being spoken to.
- All words should infuse courage into others (encourage).Every word should be to encourage the person being spoken to. Even if we have to help others dealing with negative habits or uncomfortable confrontations, it should be handled in such a manner that our words infuse the other person with the courage to make the changes needed.
King Solomon said in Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Every day, we are shaping reality for someone by the words that we use with them. The choice is ours. How will our words impact others?