‘Tis a strange mystery, the power of words!
Life is in them, and death. A word can send
The crimson colour hurrying to the cheek.
Hurrying with many meanings; or can turn
The current cold and deadly to the heart.
Anger and fear are in them; grief and joy
Are on their sound; yet slight, impalpable:–
A word is but a breath of passing air.
~ Leticia Landon
The Power of Words
The words we speak to children matter. I read recently about the magic five-to-one ratio in relationships – especially parenting. In healthy parent-child relationships, there should be at least five positive interactions for every negative interaction during conflicts. Positive interactions might be spending time in a relationship, hugging, complimenting, or just having fun together. Validating effort in challenging situations, noticing strengths, and offering help and encouragement can help offset moments of negativity.
“The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”—Rick Hanson
The same is true in our adult relationships. We tend to remember the negative comments far longer than the positive ones. That limits the joy we experience in relationships and causes us to harbor grudges, even bitterness.
Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.Colossians 4:6 NLT
Positive interactions include encouraging one another and spurring one another on to good works. It also means speaking the truth in love, letting our speech be gentle, kind, and wholesome. Building one another up instead of tearing one another down.
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city.Proverbs18:19-21 NLT
Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
Wise words satisfy like a good meal;
the right words bring satisfaction.
The tongue can bring death or life;
those who love to talk will reap the consequences.
And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT
When the grace of Jesus sinks in, we will be among the least offended and most loving people in the world. … Having received such grace, Christians have a compelling reason to be remarkably gracious, inviting, and endearing toward others, including and especially those who disagree with us.
Scott Sauls, Jesus Outside the Lines
What if all it took for us to become the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth” and the “city on a hill” to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues was to choose kindness over criticism toward one another, giving the benefit of the doubt over assuming the worst in one another, building each other up instead of tearing each other down. What kind of difference—if we committed ourselves to this—do you think it would make?Scott Sauls, Irresistible Faith
Father, you who speaks, whose words never
Return void, powerful, life-changing —
Speak your transforming power
In our lives. Use our words, Lord,
To manifest that power. May our words
Reflect on our familial relationship with You,
Giving both honor and glory to You. Amen.