“Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21). Do we really understand what this really means? I think we get that negative words hurt or positive ones help, but at times we don’t always say the right things at the right time.
It’s something I try to watch out for but I fail at too. It’s so easy to speak whatever is on the mind without even thinking first. I believe we all suffer from this which is probably why we only have one mouth and two ears and not the other way around.
The Bible emphatically speaks about how dangerous the tongue is…
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. – James 3:8 (KJV)
There’s a bunch more scriptures about the mouth, in your spare time, read this list of verses:
- Matthew 12:36-37
- Proverbs 21:23
- Ephesians 4:29
- Proverbs 12:18
- James 1:26
- Proverbs 15:4
- Proverbs 6:16-19
- Psalms 39:1
- James 3:1-18
- 1 Peter 3:10
- Matthew 5:22
- Proverbs 19:5
- Luke 6:45
- 1 Peter 2:1
Now, let me tell you a true story from a portion of my life that changed my life:
I was in high school at the time. And, I was 16 so it was that time for taking driver’s ed. I was nervously excited. We had a full class and I loved the simulation part of the class, but I was scared to actually get inside a car and drive through the parking lot.
Well, I was doing okay, going around the honeycombs and learning to back up and everything. But, the test came to parallel parking which was essential to know when driving in Chicago and so the instructor was beside me with two other students sitting in the back. I tried so hard, maybe too hard, but I ended up running over one of the combs and I failed the test.
Part of passing the class and being awarded with permits was (a) going through the maneuvers we had to do in the parking lot; (b) drive through the streets and; (c) driving two days straight on the highway through heavy traffic. I was so scared but I wanted to learn. No one in my family knew how to drive and I really didn’t want to disappoint my mother, grandmother or brother.
Anyway, my instructor got out of the car and told me I wasn’t ready to drive on the street nor the highway and he wasn’t even sure I’d ever be ready. Mind you, he said all this to me in front of the other students and then walked away.
I was hurt, embarrassed, defeated and belittled. Little did he know how hard I would take those words and what would come later. I cried and dropped out of that class. I never drove after that. I took the bus, walked and occasionally rode a bike.
Even when I moved to Atlanta Georgia, I took the bus and the Marta train to work and around the city. I lived on the north side first on Buford Highway and then moved to Sandy Springs and so thankfully I was within walking distance to some major stores and malls. I lived there for five years and after Shron, my first husband, died I moved to Florida.
For the first year in Florida, I took the bus and walked. However, I would have to face the not driving again because the bus system wasn’t good at the time. They ran 1 hour apart. I wasn’t used to that. Also, they only ran till about 8 PM every night so you couldn’t go anywhere late or you’d be stranded. I wasn’t used to that either.
Finally, what got me to try driving again was when I worked a job through a temp agency and my assignment was ending. I knew I’d have to look for another job. I badly needed a car to go on job interviews. The temporary assignment was good to me because they gave me three months before it ended so I had time to enroll in driving school. I paid $60/hr. for the lessons.
God provided the money and this time I got a very different, very patient instructor. I was extremely scared, but God was with me. To make a long story short, I passed the written test, the drug/alcohol class, the driving test and I got my license! One of my co-workers taught me how to make left and right hand turns. He took me to practice in his car after work to a section of town that you could only turn right and left. We worked for two days straight until he was satisfied that I could make right and left turns correctly which was over 100 times! Now isn’t that something?!
Another co-worker went with me to the car dealership where I bought my first car. It was a gray ’91 Pontiac GrandAM, that I paid off three years later. So, now I am driving. I was 30 years old at the time. So, my high school driving instructor’s words hurt me for 14 years.
For 14 years, I didn’t drive. Every time I walked and saw cars pass me by, I would hear his words ring through my head, “you’re not ready to drive on the street…” But, when I drove my car, I thanked God that I did it, I was driving! Hallelujah!
Now, you’re probably saying that was entirely too long to allow someone to hurt me that way. And, you’re right! But, everyone responds to words both negative and positive in different ways. That’s why it’s so important to carefully choose what we’re about to say before we speak.
Back to my story…I could have tried getting another driving instructor and took the class again. But, I believed his words. I really thought I wasn’t capable of driving… ever. The instructor never knew how his words hurt. Maybe he was just oblivious to what he said. Interesting that he never contacted me or tried to contact me again to re-enroll. He didn’t offer to tutor me or explain what I did wrong. Any of that might have helped me greatly. I don’t even remember his name. That’s how powerful words are. The person who said it may be forgotten but not he/she said.
I think that God wanted to be my Champion. He wanted me to give Him all the glory for helping me reach a milestone goal.
On a side note: about the driving story…when I was taking the drivers test in Florida to get my license, my instructor’s wife had just recently passed away and he was grieving. So, through the whole test, I got the opportunity to minister to him and encourage him as I knew exactly how he felt since I was widow!
God knew how to detour my life, bring something the enemy meant to harm me (like have me never learning to drive) and turned it around for good! “God, You’re Awesome!”
Choose your words wisely, what you say may be the difference between someone accomplishing something they never thought they would or someone deciding life isn’t worth living anymore. Think about it. We will answer to God one day for the words we used, let’s try to get it right each and every day.