As a part of my dedicated study time in the Word, I have committed to reading a Proverb each day throughout the month of January. It works out perfectly since there are 31 days in the month, and 31 Proverbs. Even though I have read Proverbs many times throughout my spiritual walk, I am amazed at how heavily wisdom is stressed and in so many different aspects of life. It addresses every age, every stage, every facet of life. My attention was especially drawn to Proverbs 15: 4 (AMP). “A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life, but a perversive tongue [speaking words that overwhelm and depress] crushes the spirit”.
Immediately I felt compelled to do some introspective thinking as it relates to my words, my conversation, my tone, and the overall impact (positive or negative) that my words have on others. My thoughts immediately went to my loved ones, those who are in my specific sphere of influence, as well as those whom I may casually come in contact with. There has always been negativity and strife in the world, but more than ever it is evident that we live in a world where social injustice, racism, discrimination, and an overall lack of respect at times for others.
Is it always intentional, you may ask? I do not believe it is. Of course, for some it is, but I would like to believe there is still a vast majority of people that are unaware of the impact of what they say. We have feelings, and we exercise our right to freedom of speech, and as the saying goes . . . “we let the chips fall where they may”. If our words were mere “chips”, the impact would not be as crucial. But words can heal or they can kill. Words can help or they can hurt. Words can build up or words can tear down. The word perversive in the scripture passage above comes from the root word pervert.
When further researching the description of that word, I was drawn to one of the meanings which states “to bring to a less excellent state”. It is important that our words build up and encourage as opposed to overwhelming, depressing, and in some instances dealing crushing blows! When one suffers from the damaging effects of a crushed spirit, it is extremely difficult to recover. There are times the individual finds it impossible to recover. Therefore, the purpose and fulfillment of all God has planned is never realized. However, in order to safeguard against this, one must think before we speak, and then evaluate not just the content of our conversation but the intent as well.
The scripture states that “A soothing tongue is a tree of life . . .” If you were to mentally picture a healthy, flourishing tree you would probably visualize one with a solid trunk (foundation), with strong branches and vibrant colorful leaves, indicating that the tree is growing and developing as it should. We should want what we speak over ourselves AND others to aid in the production of an excellent, thriving and prosperous tree of life.
Source: First Lady Denise