Do your words give life or bring death?

Paul David Tripp has said, “You have never spoken a neutral word in your life. Your words have the power of life and death in them.” This morning, Proverbs 12:18, made that come to life for me:

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Lord, help me to speak words that are sweet to the ears of those around me. Let me speak life to people, and not death.


Tripp on Not Seeing the Anger that Lives in You

In part 5 of the “How to Be Good and Angry” seminar, Paul Tripp talks about what happens if you fail to acknowledge that anger is something that lives inside of you, not outside of you.  He said that if you fail to acknowledge this:

  • You will personalize what is not personal.
  • You will turn God-given moments of ministry into moments of anger.
  • You will be adversarial in your response.
  • You will settle for quick situational solutions that don’t get to the heart of what is really going on (such as breaking off relationship, moving locations, giving condemnation, slandering the person, manipulating to get someone in your favor).

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Paul Tripp on How Good Things Become Bad Things

Paul Tripp shows the progression of how good things in life become bad things, and then proceed to ruin our relationships. (This isn’t an exact quote, just my paraphrase.)

Desire is basically an “I want…” Jesus did this Gethsemane. But then he said, “Father, not my will, but yours be done.” Well, our desire then morphs very quickly into a demand: “I must…” Desire then morphs further into a need: “I will…I cannot live without it.” When you call something a need, you have made yourself unwilling to live without it. A need then morphs into an expectation: “You should.” The Expectation leads to disappointment: “You didn’t…” Then disappointment leads to punishment: “Because you didn’t, I will…”

Then you will say to the other person, “Because you haven’t delivered what I want in this relationship, I won’t stick a knife in your chest, but I will rise to the throne of creator, and I will treat you as if you are dead, for however long it takes, to satisfy my personal vengeance.”

Check out the full DVD (6 sessions).  You won’t be disappointed.


Proverbs: Wisdom in Speech

Part 6 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

Let me say this right up front: I am not the greatest example of wise speech.  I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth a few times and I have let a few foul words slip as well.  Yet in his great mercy, despite my constant failures, God is refining my tongue.  I praise him for his sanctifying and empowering grace.

Proverbs has more to say about our speech than any other subject – besides the benefits of wisdom.  Indeed, this is a major theme of the Bible as well.  Luke 6:45 says, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  James 3:2 says, “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his wholly body.”

The straightforward command of Solomon to his son in Proverbs 4:24 is umbrella principle for our speech.  He says, “Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.”  This doesn’t just mean stop telling junior high locker room jokes.  It means anything that isn’t in line with God’s standard for righteousness, justice, and wholesomeness.  Wow.  It’s no wonder that “no man can tame the tongue” (James 3:8).

There are benefits to controlling our tongue (which, ultimately, means we control our hearts as Luke 6:45 says).  Solomon later says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (13:3).  And again, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (29:20).  In other words, if you are loose and foolish with your speech, the guy who sticks his hand in the bonfire to see how hot it is has more hope than you.

Words are powerful.  Paul Tripp has said, “You have never spoken a neutral word in your life.  Either your talk brings life or brings death.”  That strikes a chord deep inside of my heart.  Words lure men away into adultery (7:5, 21).  Words tarnish the reputation of a neighbor (11:9).  Words scorch close relationships (16:27-28).  Harsh words create anger (15:1b).  On the other hand, soft words remove wrath (15:1a).  Words heal wounded hearts (12:18).  Honest words are like a lover’s kiss (24:26).  A word fitly spoken is like a sweet fruit tray at a dinner party (25:11).

I haven’t even touched on gossip, lying, deception, reproving others, and a slew of other speech-related issues.  There’s so much to reflect on.  The bottom line is that if our hearts are wicked, our speech will be as well.  O Lord, change our hearts that our speech might be seasoned with salt so that it might be received well by the listening ear.  Cause the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart, Father, to be acceptable in your sight (Ps. 19:14).

To be continued…


Pitfalls in Communication: Sin

Part 6 of a 6 part series. View series intro and index.

Let’s have a short review of everything we’ve discussed over the past six weeks about our communication.  We assume the worst about people and assume they know what we are thinking.  We communicate differently than our neighbors, our friends, and the opposite gender because we are all from different cultures.  We tend to withhold important truths, manipulate facts, or change the subject.  We want to avoid talking to people face-to-face because it’s uncomfortable.  We have unreasonable expectations and therefore, become greatly disappointed in others.

That’s a pretty dismal pedigree.  All of these things happen because of something called sin.  It lives in us—even Christians—and it wreaks havoc on our relationships.  Listen to James, the brother of Jesus, talk about why we have problems with other people:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and you do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.  You do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (4:1-3).

Jesus Christ has perfectly spoken on God’s behalf to the world.  And in turn, he has perfectly spoken to God on our behalf as our advocate (1 John 2:2).  That same passage in 1 Timothy says that Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all” (v. 6).  If haven’t received Christ by faith as the ransom for your sinful life—communication pitfalls included—to obtain peace before God (Rom. 5:1), then you will never experience peace with others.  Sure, there might be superficial peace and joy and it might seem great.  But if you haven’t addressed your greatest problem—your own sinful self—all your other problems will never get solved.

Quality communication with the people around us really can happen.  You don’t have to be a communicative failure.  Things can never be perfect, of course.  But the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t exist just to save you from hell and damnation.  It exists to bring restoration between us and God and also to every area of life—especially relationships with others.

In the gospel, we find forgiveness on God’s part and repentance on ours.  In your life, you will have to do both with people, and if you can sincerely live this out with others, I trust that God will bring healing and redemption to your all of your relationships.