The Value of Words

Matthew 12: 34b for out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

I heard a statistic recently that the average person speaks 16,000 words per day. I found that to be an incredible number.  Do I really speak that many words?  While one would think that sports should have very little to do with speaking, the reality is that words have become crucial, especially for elite athletes.  Beyond the personal verbal interaction with coaches, fellow athletes and with the public, for many elite athletes there is a level of fame and with that, countless interviews:  radio, TV, online, and newspaper.  The value, or perhaps the weight, of the words they speak becomes magnified.

God understands the gravity of the words we speak and not surprisingly he spends considerable time in his Word giving caution to the errant use of words, and he commends the wise use of words.  For example, Proverbs 18:21 says The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Or Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear

How much thought have you put into the words you speak?  If you looked at the 16,000 words you speak in a day, how edifying are they?  How many of those words honour others and honour God?  While I do spend time contemplating what I say, I’ve never really looked at the net sum of positive versus negative words at the end of the day.  For me, evaluating my words at the end of a day in which I consider the value of my words, is really helpful.  How did I do today with my tongue?  How can I do better tomorrow?

For a Christian Athlete in the spotlight, I have to imagine it is a particularly weighty thing.  If you are in this place, there are certainly days in which you are struggling and you may be lacking in a number of the fruits of the spirit, especially patience, yet you still need to speak (often with large numbers of people listening in).  If you are in this place, it is absolutely critical that your day is started out with the Word of God, and you continue communing with God (even if only in silent meditation with Him).  It is critical that the Lord Jesus living in you is the voice that is heard and not your natural man.  It is critical that your heart is right with the Lord.  Live a life of repentance, spend time dealing with sin in your life, allow God to do a work in your heart.  This is critical because the scriptures tell us that:  “out of the overflow of our heart, the mouth speaks” Matthew 12:34b.

Whether you are a famous athlete or relatively unknown you have a responsibility to guard your tongue and speak life.  Each of us has that opportunity and responsibility and it is one which we must take seriously.   Consider surveying your use of words at the end of the day, and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you where it is not pleasing to God.  Get your heart right with God and speak life.

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