At the beginning of the summer, I wrote an article entitled Why Words Hold So Much Weight. I wrote out of a place where I was struggling with separating truth from the lies in my head. My experiences in life and the process of writing that article helped me to delineate the importance of recognizing God's truth (a truth that cannot and will not pass away) and using it to replace the lies whispered to us by the world and Satan.
Truth is not simply a characteristic that God shares with us and that Satan subverts; it is an aspect of community-driven life. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus saying, "Having put away falsehood, each one of you should speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another" (Eph. 4:25, ESV).
And that's why, months later, I've been practicing another aspect of living in truth: intentionally speaking truth to other people.
The power of the tongue is proved again and again throughout Scripture. Proverbs 18:21 says that "death and life are in the power of the tongue." The words we choose to use can wound or heal, bring fear or peace, or bring doubt or courage to the people we talk to. That's why how we speak is so important – speaking truth is speaking life itself.
How are we to speak truth?
Going back to Ephesians chapter four and reading verse 15 gives us some clarity. We are to speak truth out of a place of love — not out of fear, not out of duty, and not out of a desire to see a person hurt. Instead, follow Paul's advice to the church in Colossai: "Let your words be gracious, seasoned with salt," so that you can answer people well (Col. 4:6, ESV).
When are we to speak truth?
So much truth about our speech comes from Ephesians chapter four. When you look at the section from verses 17-32, you see that Paul is referring to a complete lifestyle change. So, we can't just speak truth and life when we feel like it or when it's easy. We need to put away our old habits of gossip and silence, choosing instead to lift up other people with our words each and every day.
What truth are we to speak?
Truth comes from God's Word! Think about how Jesus spoke to others. To people who were outcast from society and living lives abounding in sin, he met them with grace, with love, and with hope. He shared the path to salvation with them.
What does a lifestyle of speaking truth look like?
It looks like time spent in Scripture, acquiring truth.
It looks like voicing the compliments you think of in your head.
It looks like choosing to hold back hurtful words and speak kind ones instead.
It looks like learning how to critique gracefully, to tackle problems with humility and kindness.
It looks like inner strength, not dishing out contempt the way someone might do to you.
It looks like love, in every conceivable way.
Most of all, it should look like the face of Christ. Your words might be the only Gospel some people ever hear.
Your words have weight. Choose to speak the truth in love.