Can Words Heal?

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“A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but willful contrariness in it breaks down the spirit.” –Proverbs 15:4.

I do not have a gentle tongue. I mean, when I really focus I can pretend to for about five minutes. I really suck at being gentle and meek and humble.This verse got me thinking even more about the power of my words and the intent behind them.

The second part of this verse seems pretty simple, but it’s got two interesting parts:

1) Don’t say mean things on purpose.

2) If you do, it breaks your spirit too.

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Do your words hurt or heal?

When I am “contrary” I tell myself (and others) that I can’t control it. But that’s a lie. It is really difficult to control my tongue but I can do it. It never occurred to me that every negative or mean thing a person says is totally in his or her own control! But it is.

When I read this verse before, I thought of it in the context of how my words affect others. But the truth is that they affect me as well! Every time I lose patience with my children and snap at them, get angry with my husband or a friend, or lose my temper with a relative, I break not only their spirits but my own as well. You lose a little bit of yourself every time you do it.

On the other hand, can your words heal someone else? I think so. I’m not talking about walking down the aisle of a church and having a minister lay his hands on your forehead and knock you to the ground, claiming to have healed you. I’m not saying that doesn’t actually happen, but it’s not what I mean here.

I mean your words in little ways. A kind or encouraging statement when you know someone needs it makes a huge difference. Encouragement is even highly effective on a stranger!


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